Guest commentary: President Carter meddling where he doesn’t belong
By: Glen Spicer Special to the Messenger
By GLEN SPICER
Former President Jimmy Carter has taken it upon himself to solve one of the world’s oldest challenges, getting Israel and its enemies to “all just get along.” What the peanut farmer doesn’t seem to understand is, it is just not going to happen and his involvement can cause more problems than it has the power to solve.
The supreme issue for me is simple and uncomplicated. Jimmy Carter is a former President of the United States and as such he will ALWAYS be seen as a representative of the United States, like it or not, asked to be or not wherever he goes in the world. Even if not official, he would not be accepted in these talks if he had not been president, so he is using undue influence for personal grounds, whatever they may be, (although his anti-Israel view comes to mind). And in this instance, he was NOT asked to be so he is misrepresenting the U.S. with a perceived authority that he does not have.
He is meddling into affairs for his own personal reasons, since he was not asked to represent the U.S. so he should be reprimanded by the Bush Administration at the very least. He is another leftist who thinks that having a conversation with terrorist influences in this mad world of ours will do any good. I suppose they have developed and fine-tuned this mindset for centuries and it can be changed with a cup of tea and a little chat. Not likely.
Did Carter even consider the fallout should a former President of the U.S. be killed while on such an unauthorized mission into such hostile territory? What would the administration’s reaction be, another war of reprisal? Simply put, he has no business over there and is on a fool-hardy, grandstanding, self-serving mission. There are legal and criminal issues to be considered as well.
The Logan Act was passed to prevent unauthorized citizens from meddling in foreign affairs. It states in part:
“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
Former President Carter seems to have violated this law which has been on the books since 1799 and revised in 1994. Interestingly enough, no one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act. Considered for prosecution under this law was Stokely Carmichael for his visit to Hanoi during the Vietnam War, Senators John Sparkman and George McGovern when they went to Cuba and met with officials there, and Rev. Jessie Jackson who went to Cuba and Nicaragua and brought several political prisoners seeking asylum in the United States.
In 1972 actress Jane Fonda took it upon herself while in Vietnam for a benefit, to prove that U.S. prisoners were not being mistreated, technically “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” So it is fitting that she has endorsed Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama who has stated that he will “…meet separately, without precondition” with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezula, Cuba and North Korea.
No “preconceived conditions”? Isn’t that like inviting Hannibal Lecter over for supper without taking into consideration his favorite entree?
No charges have ever been pursued in any violation of the Logan Act so Carter probably considers himself safe from prosecution as well.
But he is no less guilty under the law. And if one violation was not enough, here is another: Carter’s meetings also violate the USA Patriot Act of 2001 which prohibits any citizen from knowingly providing …” material support or resources” to a foreign terrorist organization (18 U.S.C. 23339A (b)). Some interpret the phrase above to include “expert advice” which is what Carter’s intentions are.
Found guilty under the Patriot Act, Carter could be imprisoned for life. That is doubtful, but nevertheless his actions are criminal and totally misguided.
And what about the common sense side of this whole affair. Hamas is a terrorist organization with deeply embedded convictions. It has claimed responsibility for rocket attacks into Israeli settlements and they have vowed to never stop its aggression against Israel until they are eradicated.
Has anyone ever seen a terrorist take OFF his suicide vest, apologize for his mistaken intentions, and smile saying, “I am glad we had this little chat. It really straightened me out. Thanks for sharing”?
What good does political talk do when one side is bent on their own destruction because it glorifies their position “on earth and in heaven” and on the destruction of their opposition too because they are unworthy to live anyway.
Negotiating with terrorists only strengthens their positions in their own eyes and makes them feel legitimate. They only allowed these meetings to strengthen their own ends. For one to believe they are willing to compromise on century-held beliefs and change their agenda shows a “failed grasp on the big picture.”
For terrorists and organizations that fund and create them, only their goals are worthy of pursuit. Perhaps his Nobel Peace Prize has gone to his head and he honestly thinks he can save this part of the world from its own destruction. At the very least, Carter is foolishly and embarrassingly acting in his own interest. He cannot change things but definitely can make things worse. True negotiation seeks a win-win solution. With terrorists there can be only a win-lose and they don’t view losing as an option.
Editor’s note: Glen Spicer, a Troy resident, is a longtime contributor to The Messenger.
Published in The Messenger 5.7.08