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Jimmy Carter
June 25, 2012 3:46 PM   Subscribe

"The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights." - Jimmy Carter

"At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends."

We discussed Jimmy Carter leaving the Southern Baptist Convention three years ago.
posted by jeffburdges (86 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, is the NYT opposed to war, torture and indefinite detention now? Well that's nice to hear.
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:51 PM on June 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


Could we get Jimmy Carter elected as UN General Secretary or does his citizenship in one of the superpowers preclude him? Like, does the charter say that the General Secretary must always come from one of the 3rd world nations?
posted by spicynuts at 3:51 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, is the NYT opposed to war, torture and indefinite detention now? Well that's nice to hear.

Nah, just Jimmy Carter. Now we have a Democrat and a Republican we can try for war crimes. Where's Nader when you need him?
posted by Avenger50 at 3:53 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, is the NYT opposed to war, torture and indefinite detention now?

The source is the NYT itself, so there's a high chance they got all the facts wrong.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:54 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


...is abandoning...

try
HAS ABANDONED
posted by Flood at 3:54 PM on June 25, 2012 [18 favorites]


Could we get Jimmy Carter elected as UN General Secretary

The general membership of the United Nations and the Security Council do not, as a rule, support human rights and democratic freedoms.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:55 PM on June 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


Could we get Jimmy Carter elected as UN General Secretary or does his citizenship in one of the superpowers preclude him? Like, does the charter say that the General Secretary must always come from one of the 3rd world nations?

Most of the Secretaries-General of the UN have been from developed nations. But it wouldn't do much good, given the makeup of the Security Council.
posted by jedicus at 3:55 PM on June 25, 2012


Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to cite such actions to justify their own despotic behavior.

Hearts and minds.

Who would have thought that a President who won the Nobel Peace Prize pretty much just by showing up would become the world's first global robokiller?
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:56 PM on June 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


I've never read any of Jimmy Carter's books, but has he ever addressed his inconvenient human rights record while he was President? Indonesia/East Timor, Cambodia, Haiti?
I love what he's accomplished since being President.
posted by NoMich at 4:00 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


To be fair, we only really have the technology now. I mean how much restraint do you think Jackson would have shown?
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:01 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean how much restraint do you think Jackson would have shown?

Not much.
posted by swift at 4:05 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's hilarious that he thinks the US has been a champion of human rights. We have always been willing to trade the suffering of others for economic or political gain since the first colonists rowed off of their boats. To suggest otherwise is a joke.

I don't think that the typical American would agree with what our country has done and will continue to do, but to imply that throughout our history the American government has almost universally acted as a body wholly uninterested in the welfare of any group unless that welfare directly benefits the American superpower.
posted by Fister Roboto at 4:05 PM on June 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Well, the US is the best of all possible worlds, and the end of history.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:06 PM on June 25, 2012


I have sad news for you, Jimmy Carter.

Also I see this is in actuality another moan about Anwar Awlalki and I have to say again: fuck that guy.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama getting the Peace Prize made me laugh bitterly.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:13 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not sure how killing with drones is much different than killing with manned aircraft. Even if you forget about the illegal and criminal bombings of Cambodia and Laos by Nixon, Kissenger and company, all American presidents since then have basically pulled the trigger on killings and assassinations. The war on communist guerillas in the Philippines is one example, but what about Central America during the 80s? Somalia? Sudan?
posted by KokuRyu at 4:15 PM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


I agree with Fister Roboto. The US cares about its interests, and not a lot more.
posted by Nadie_AZ at 4:18 PM on June 25, 2012


Only a US citizen could proclaim with a straight face that the USA has ever been the global champion of human rights. This was true both before and after Jimmy Carter.
posted by wilful at 4:20 PM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Carter is a flawed messenger, no question.

And the plea overlooks other forceful, if not super-powerful, nation-state advocates of human rights.

And the plea overlooks the United States' not always consistent advocacy when such advocacy was in conflict with other national interests.

But the plea should not be overlooked altogether. Human rights should be the soul of the nation's foreign policy, to paraphrase Carter, and the nation should strive to be the champion of human rights, even if the nation hasn't been that champion up to now and even if it's unlikely that the nation can ever became the champion it ought to be.
posted by notyou at 4:25 PM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


While the country has made mistakes in the past, the widespread abuse of human rights over the last decade has been a dramatic change from the past.

There's a fair argument to make that recent presidential power abuses and Congress' increasing unwillingness to reign in those abuses bodes ill for human rights. But "mistakes in the past?" I'm sure President Carter has a least a passing familiarity with the atrocities of President Jackson (among others). Any national aspirations toward human rights must recognize the full scope of our national violations of human rights.
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:29 PM on June 25, 2012


America did far worse things than the drone war in the past, but we generally did them in private, and then when they became public denied and decried and slapped some wrists. The difference in recent years has been that the growing ubiquitousness of communications is providing a global transparency to our actions, which have as a result become more circumspect but also more dramatically and immediately public

Now we're getting youtube videos of American soldiers murdering innocent journalists and civilians, photos from torture prisons and soldiers trophy corpse shots and sociopathic multimedia, security companies picking apart our cyberwarfare code. We're hearing details day-in and day-out, thinly papered over only by the propaganda about "militants" and the very official doings of processes, the truth of which has now been very publicly aired

So, America continues as an ever more exposed empire, telling ever more transparent lies to its population so they can try to continue to ignore the "necessary evils" we engage in daily to maintain ever-less power. And the rest of the world sees exactly what evils we're inflicting, with ever-fewer illusions of our good intentions
posted by crayz at 4:29 PM on June 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also I see this is in actuality another moan about Anwar Awlalki and I have to say again: fuck that guy.

Our intelligence sources suggest that you're a noted sympathizer with liberal terrorist causes, so the drones have been dispatched.

What's that, you say? All the evidence is secret, and you can't contest any of it in court? Ha, as if you'd get to defend yourself. Once the accusation is made, you're a dead man.

Proof? We don't need any stinking proof, especially not beyond a reasonable doubt.
posted by Malor at 4:35 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Carter is a flawed messenger, no question.

Any particular reason?
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:35 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Carter is a flawed messenger, no question.

Jimmy Carter is also a great man who has done more for humanity than I ever will. And let's not forget that the Republicans colluded with the Iranians to ensure his defeat in the 1980 election.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:35 PM on June 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


In fairness I think the estimable Mr. Carter is playing to the conventional wisdom of America as we like to see ourselves. No one knows better than he does how we drag our feet on human rights: in the developed world we're usually the last to sign on human rights conventions, if we ever sign them at all. And certainly nothing will ever induce us to submit to jurisditction of the International Criminal Court. He knows all this. But he's speaking to the story we like to tell ourselves, and in the end, how could he do otherwise?
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:36 PM on June 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


I believe Carter's words carry force precisely because he represents the sort of flawed messenger who held the reigns of power for four years. In particular, Obama had better damn well read this and ask himself "In 20 year, am I going to be writing the same thing about Islamic 'collection' camps, laws against uninstalling your phone's FBI location tracking app, oil sands subsidies, etc.?"
posted by jeffburdges at 4:37 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read elsewhere (I'm pretty sure here, but who knows) that the USAF has plans for those mini-space shuttle like vehicles to be used to deliver special forces, sort of like the Osama bin Laden raid but anywhere in the world with ~60 minutes of notice. Of course, they also want to use them as a sort of enhanced cruise missile as well.

These scenarios are only going to get crazier (and more dystopic, I'm afraid to admit) as our technology advances further ahead of our ability to fully consider the implications of its usage.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:38 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Human rights should be the soul of the nation's foreign policy

Huh? Come again? These rights that us humans seem to be entitled too, are a fallacy.
posted by a3matrix at 4:39 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh? Come again? These rights that us humans seem to be entitled too, are a fallacy.

What if I restate: Not murdering innocent civilians in other nations based on the decisions of a unchecked cabal should be the soul of a nation's foreign policy. Can that be something us humans seem entitled to?
posted by crayz at 4:45 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Flawed messenger or no, in the context of his time in the White House (which is itself up for debate), he's certainly done more than his share post-White House to put a little bit more humanity in humans. Which brings me to

These rights that us humans seem to be entitled too, are a fallacy.

What does this even mean?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:47 PM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Could we get Jimmy Carter elected as UN General Secretary or does his citizenship in one of the superpowers preclude him?

Not precluded at all, but what do you think he'd be able to do if he were to take charge of UN tomorrow? There is a lot more to UN charter than the Secretary General's position. The current world order is based, for most part, on the idea of sovereignty and sovereign nations being the masters of their own domain. The UN is no exception. There have, of course, been cases when such sovereignty has been violated (often by the "West", and in recent years) and the efforts have not been, let us say, effective. Nonetheless, the principle remains and attempts to violate it are strongly resisted. There is no Global Democracy as such.
posted by vidur at 4:57 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not sure how killing with drones is much different than killing with manned aircraft.

I think the greater levels of remove and abstraction afforded warfare makes it far easier to conduct despite important external forces like unpopularity at home and even individual moral conscience and decision making, and I think every obstacle that makes war hard to conduct is a really good thing to have around. I'm not surprised that new efficiencies of killing people would also be the most ugly and underhandedly brutal, too. There's something distasteful about the ubiquity of casualties in war resigned to a language of pulling a trigger on the joystick because we liked the math on that target.
posted by dougmoon at 5:11 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Carter is a flawed messenger, no question.

Any particular reason?
From time to time during his presidency commitment to human rights lost out to other national interests (Nicaragua, El Salvador, East Timor, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, South Korea).

My point, if it wasn't clear, was that the message should not be dismissed because of Carter's flaws (or, if one prefers, because of the flawed decisions pressed upon him by the circumstances of the time). Cynicism is reactionary. Hope is revolutionary.
posted by notyou at 5:18 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


As an aside, I found wikipedia's notes on his naval career interesting :

"On December 12, 1952, an accident with the experimental NRX reactor at Atomic Energy of Canada's Chalk River Laboratories caused a partial meltdown. The resulting explosion caused millions of liters of radioactive water to flood the reactor building's basement, .. [Carter] was the officer in charge of the U.S. team assisting in the shutdown of the Chalk River Nuclear Reactor."

".. Carter's team used a model of the reactor to practice the steps necessary to disassemble the reactor and seal it off. During execution of the actual disassembly each team member, including Carter, donned protective gear, was lowered individually into the reactor, stayed for only a few seconds at a time to minimize exposure to radiation, .."

".. Carter indicated that his experience at Chalk River shaped his views on nuclear power and nuclear weapons, including his decision not to pursue completion of the neutron bomb.
"

posted by jeffburdges at 5:22 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Carter is the only U.S. president to have lived in housing subsidized for the poor"
posted by jeffburdges at 5:24 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fister Roboto: "It's hilarious that he thinks the US has been a champion of human rights. We have always been willing to trade the suffering of others for economic or political gain since the first colonists rowed off of their boats."

It's hilarious that he thinks the US has been a champion of human rights. Humans as a whole have always been willing to trade the suffering of others for economic or political gain since the first Homo Habilis picked up a bone
posted by 2manyusernames at 5:24 PM on June 25, 2012


What does this even mean?

It means troll, do not feed.
posted by tivalasvegas at 5:45 PM on June 25, 2012


Yes, Jimmy Carter, the guy who violated Iran's sovereign airspace by sending a large commando force into the country to rescue hostages held by a bunch of students. Do you mean the Jimmy Carter with the wonderful record on human rights, who said he was "proud" to have arch-racist Lester Maddox as his lieutenant governor in Georgia in the early '70s? The guy who said he'd invite the then-racist demigod George Wallace to his state.

Really? This guy? Every time he had power, he acted like a regular good 'ol boy, saying that segregation was a "natural inclination" and acting like aa regular US President sending troops into Middle Eastern countries in what Obama's opponents would categorie as a violation of international law?

Carter's a guy who did mature and learn a lot. But all of it was after he had no skin in the game and had nothing at all to lose.

Wonder why he's for Romney in this election.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:53 PM on June 25, 2012


Carter's a guy who did mature and learn a lot. But all of it was after he had no skin in the game and had nothing at all to lose.

Isn't that the point? He could have spent his retirement golfing, tanning, and hardening his arteries back on some ranch. Instead, well, we have ... all this other stuff he did.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:03 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wonder why he's for Romney in this election.

Yeah, Carter's just a GOP mole. Really playing the long game there.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:05 PM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]



Carter's a guy who did mature and learn a lot. But all of it was after he had no skin in the game and had nothing at all to lose.

Isn't that the point? He could have spent his retirement golfing, tanning, and hardening his arteries back on some ranch. Instead, well, we have ... all this other stuff he did.


Really? I have zero respect for the guy who when he had power, acted in one way and after he had nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain by acting like the non-racist dove said the opposite. That's playing to the audience, pure and simple.

This has been the Presidency of the hardest choices since Lincoln, especially given the constellation of political forces. The President, while laboring under a very obvious handicap that lily-White Carter did not, has made those hard choices in ways that Carter never could.

Jimmy Carter, one of a long line of white Southern presidents who tried and succeeded at having it both ways could never, ever hold a candle to Barack Obama. Ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:11 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonder why he's for Romney in this election.

Yeah, Carter's just a GOP mole. Really playing the long game there.


Why then, is he taking a position, in the midst of the election, designed to sap support for the incumbent Democratic President, when the other guy is 100x worse? Please, answer this question directly.

There's something to be said for the facts and context. Is he making it more or less likely that the things he complains of will continue? Romney gonna stop drone strikes? You really believe that?

Seriously, up is down these days.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:21 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Romney gonna stop drone strikes? You really believe that?

Is Obama going to? We get told how different these two candidates are, so this is a strange example to bring up given how Romney would set the same policy on drone strikes as Obama. Maybe Jimmy Carter is using other criteria for differentiating the two candidates.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:31 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Any particular reason?

There are about 180,000 reasons in East Timor. Carter played a crucial role in the nearly genocidal warfare there, continuously during the entire time of his presidency (and not "from time to time"). His administration provided airplanes, ammunition, napalm, diplomatic and economic support, military training, etc. He even had his vice president make a special trip to Indonesia to offer weapons the Indonesian military hadn't even gotten around to asking for, so they could continue with "Operation Annihilation." The US made sure the Red Cross couldn't get in for years, even though hundreds of thousands were facing starvation.

Long after his presidency, the Portuguese prime minister practically begged Carter to say something public, to use his international influence to end the daily torturing, disappearances and incredible brutality. He refused. He said he "knew nothing" about the situation in East Timor.

Here are some letters smuggled out from East Timor, speaking of what it was like being bombarded by US supplied planes during the reign of the "Human Rights President:"

"Many elements of the population were killed under inhuman conditions of bombardment and starvation … The waters of the river were filled with blood and bodies. Husbands, fathers, brothers and abandoned wives, sons and brothers all in the same agony."

"Pray much for us. The war will last indefinitely. The war in the south, near the sea, pounds the earth with artillery fire … We’re threatened by illness and disease, as until now we don’t have preventative vaccines (after three years of war!) Medicines are rare. Pray for us that God will quickly send away this scourge of war. The mountains shake with the bombardment. The earth talks with the blood of the people, who die miserably … "

"From last September the war was again intensified. The bombers did not stop all day. Hundreds of human beings died every day. The bodies of the victims become food for carnivorous birds. If we don’t die of the war, we die of the plague; villages have been completely destroyed, some tribes decimated. The barbarities, the cruelties, the pillaging, the unqualified destruction of Timor, the executions without reason have spread deep roots in Timor. Genocide will come soon …"

Cynicism is reactionary.

Suggesting a war criminal who participated in one of the worst mass slaughters of recent times is a legitimate proponent of human rights seems pretty cynical to me. We can have the necessary and difficult discussions about human rights without promoting mythology and waving away basic facts - about Carter and the US as a whole.

If Jimmy Carter gave a press conference or wrote a book in which he laid out what he was responsible for in East Timor, showed how it connected with other long-standing US policies, and expressed real remorse and an intention to rectify his mistakes, I would forgive him in a second. I'd hang his picture on my wall and proclaim him the greatest of US presidents, someone capable of the ruthless honesty required to have a genuine discussion about human rights. Until then, he's fundamentally a hypocrite and a moral coward.
posted by williampratt at 6:41 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you go back to the original interview in which Carter said Romney wasn't Satan, that was about it.

Obama has created structural problems for the Democratic Party, but I'll be giving him money (once I can get a goddamned yard sign). This is not 'Nam. This is politics, Smokey, there are rules.

The choice was Carter or Ford. Pretending otherwise is just some sort of moral purity crusade. I didn't even get a choice between Carter and Reagan because the election results were all over the news before I got off work.
posted by warbaby at 6:49 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any ex- (or current) US president going on about human rights is best seen as comedy.
posted by signal at 6:56 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. We hate Jimmy Carter here now? I missed the memo.
posted by hippybear at 7:02 PM on June 25, 2012 [19 favorites]


This has been the Presidency of the hardest choices since Lincoln, especially given the constellation of political forces.

That statement is just a tad hyperbolic, no?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:03 PM on June 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


notyou: "Cynicism is reactionary. Hope is revolutionary."

All this talk about "Hope" is asinine. Hope is just as hollow as faith.

Regimes won't just change because we hope really hard. Regimes will change when they are shown to be the dishonest, illegitimate things that they are.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:09 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonder why he's for Romney in this election.

I'm sure he's not but feels relatively confident Obama can survive his attack. Also, it might not hurt Obama with certain on-the-fence voters if this helps show a little more sunlight between himself and the 'weak liberal' stereotype Carter represents for so many in the electorate.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:14 PM on June 25, 2012


America did far worse things than the drone war in the past, but we generally did them in private, and then when they became public denied and decried and slapped some wrists. The difference in recent years has been that the growing ubiquitousness of communications is providing a global transparency to our actions, which have as a result become more circumspect but also more dramatically and immediately public

Now we're getting youtube videos of American soldiers murdering innocent journalists and civilians, photos from torture prisons and soldiers trophy corpse shots and sociopathic multimedia, security companies picking apart our cyberwarfare code. We're hearing details day-in and day-out, thinly papered over only by the propaganda about "militants" and the very official doings of processes, the truth of which has now been very publicly aired


A lid is being put on that, slowly.

Journalists in a war zone are corralled embedded, if they know what's good for them. Also, drones don't hold press briefings.

What was the only lesson from Abu Ghraib that was really learned? Don't let privates bring in cameras.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:17 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is next-to-no human rights law in the United States. Almost no important court decisions touch on human right. Most American lawyers - lawyers! - couldn't name a single important human rights convention, explain the difference between human rights and civil rights, or explain what human rights standards are binding on the United States.

I guess my point is that to spread human rights abroad, we'd need a populace that understood what human rights were and demanded they be applied here at home. Instead we have a "rights" conversation driven entirely by our own Constitution, and the most important individual rights Americans seem to care about have to do with guns.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:20 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


NoMich, Amy Goodman asked Jimmy Carter about East Timor in a 2007 interview.

In Carter's words: "I had a policy when I was president of not selling weapons if it would exacerbate a potential conflict in a region of the world, and some of our allies were very irate about this policy. And I have to say that I was not, you know, as thoroughly briefed about what was going on in East Timor as I should have been. I was more concerned about other parts of the world then."

There's more that follows in the interview if you're interested. My take on Carter is that he's essentially a good person. Power and authority are inherently corrupting -- and I mean that in a personal kind of sense, in that they corrupt who you are and how you see the world -- and I think it's to Carter's credit that he resisted the corrupting force to the extent that he did.

I think there's a degree of skepticism necessary in order have a sound moral center. The powerful and the people who surround the powerful are prone to lie, mislead, or distort in order to achieve amoral ends. Skepticism is necessary in order to see the reality beyond a disingenuous story and make an informed moral decision. But as a strictly practical matter, I think that taking on the demands and responsibilities of a presidency necessitates that you relinquish some of your skepticism in order to function effectively.
posted by compartment at 7:25 PM on June 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


There is next-to-no human rights law in the United States. Almost no important court decisions touch on human right. Most American lawyers - lawyers! - couldn't name a single important human rights convention, explain the difference between human rights and civil rights, or explain what human rights standards are binding on the United States.

Title VII. Any other non-lawyers or "stunt lawyers" wanna tell me, an attorney with multiple civil rights cases currently FILED what I know and don't know about the law?
posted by Ironmouth at 7:27 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonder why he's for Romney in this election.

I'm sure he's not but feels relatively confident Obama can survive his attack. Also, it might not hurt Obama with certain on-the-fence voters if this helps show a little more sunlight between himself and the 'weak liberal' stereotype Carter represents for so many in the electorate.


Yeah, well I'm not gonna take the word of they guy who was fucking slaughtered by Ronnie Ray-gun on politics.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:30 PM on June 25, 2012


Having defeated Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts in 24 of 34 primaries, President Carter entered the party's convention in New York in August 1980 with 60 percent of the delegates pledged to him on the first ballot. Despite this, Ted Kennedy refused to drop out, and the 1980 Democratic National Convention was one of the nastiest on record.

Here's a thought experiment: rank order all the presidents from Nixon to Obama; best to worst. Carter had problems, sure. Ryoichi Sasakawa for one. But all the same, compared to his contemporaries, he's not looking so bad.
posted by warbaby at 8:20 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, no offense dude I sometimes agree with you, but goddamnit on a bicycle I wish you could/would restrain yourself - preferably completely - on any topic related to Barack Obama.
posted by smoke at 8:35 PM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


has made those hard choices in ways that Carter never could.

That's because Remote-Controlled Airborne Death Machines weren't yet in wide use.
posted by kengraham at 8:44 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, Ironmouth, it's great (really! it is!) that you have such a busy civil rights practice. I'm glad to know that while I'm wasting my license slinging diapers that there are other practitioners out there fighting the good fight. But - and I mean this with no offense - if you would read what I wrote rather than assume I was addressing myself to you specifically, you'd notice that you just proved my point. Title VII is an incredibly important piece of civil rights legislation but it is not - by and large - a human rights instrument.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:45 PM on June 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


Not precluded at all, but what do you think he'd be able to do if he were to take charge of UN tomorrow?

It's one thing to have Boutros Boutros Ghali up there meekly condemning stuff...no one in the America pays attention..they don't know who he is. It's another to have an ex-President of the United States standing up there calling the U.S. on it's shit. Even if it is symbolic, it is a highly powerful symbol. I'm not saying he would end these issues as Secretary, but I am saying he would be a lot harder to ignore than Ban Ki-Moon.
posted by spicynuts at 8:52 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Carter using the Secretary Generalship as a bully pulpit to call US on our shit (and it would be a well deserved call out) sounds like a recipe for the GOP to make a push to finally cut ties with the UN completely, and given the political situation, they just might pull it off this time.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:58 PM on June 25, 2012


I said nothing about bully pulpit but your point is taken.
posted by spicynuts at 9:18 PM on June 25, 2012


That'd probably be the kindest characterization they'd use. I would expect all sorts of "traitor" type stuff as well.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:24 PM on June 25, 2012


KokuRyu wrote: The war on communist guerillas in the Philippines is one example, but what about Central America during the 80s?

To be fair, many of the folks in those countries were asking for it, quite literally. They were as deathly afraid of communists as the communists were of the nationalists supported by the US, and with good reason. I was just talking to someone about that weirdness last night. (Note that I'm not saying it was ok, only that the common narrative of the left is as incomplete as the common narrative of the right)

Ironmouth wrote: Seriously, up is down these days.

I generally agree with you on these Obama referendum threads, but not everything is about Obama or the pending election, Mr. Ironmouth. Pretending otherwise only does disservice to the ideal of open and rational discourse.
posted by wierdo at 9:25 PM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


"I AM A SUPERPOWER!"

"What's that mean? Are you like a super hero, saving people from badness?'

"Well, not so much. My responsibilities usally only involve protecting myself. BUT SEE MY AWESOME CAPE!!"

posted by twoleftfeet at 9:51 PM on June 25, 2012


Abandoning?
posted by MartinWisse at 10:38 PM on June 25, 2012


>KokuRyu wrote: The war on communist guerillas in the Philippines is one example, but what about Central America during the 80s?

To be fair, many of the folks in those countries were asking for it, quite literally.


I'm pretty sure the Sandinistas were a popular movement, but I wasn't there, what would I know?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:22 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


1adam12: Most American lawyers - lawyers! - couldn't name a single important human rights convention, explain the difference between human rights and civil rights, or explain what human rights standards are binding on the United States.

Ironmouth: Any other non-lawyers or "stunt lawyers" wanna tell me, an attorney with multiple civil rights cases currently FILED what I know and don't know about the law?

Holy complete reading failure and reflexive credential dropping, Batman!
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 12:12 AM on June 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


[Guys? Maybe resist an Ironmouth lawyering cred derail here?]
posted by taz at 12:41 AM on June 26, 2012


It's hilarious that he thinks the US has been a champion of human rights.

It does sometimes seem that the alternation has been between isolationism (let them kill each other, what's it to us) and realpolitik (he may be a bastard, but he's our bastard). I think traditionally the US has been inclined to think it could discharge its political duty to the rest of the world mainly by being an aspirational example and exporting films and Coca-cola. Perhaps the point he's really making is that since 9/11 the example thing is gone, replaced by a desire to be safe, and in pursuit of safety, feared by potential enemies.
posted by Segundus at 2:01 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? I have zero respect for the guy who when he had power, acted in one way and after he had nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain by acting like the non-racist dove said the opposite. That's playing to the audience, pure and simple.

Or you could consider it redeeming oneself as they approach old age. But I guess you know what's going on in Carter's brain better than the rest of us.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:17 AM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wonder why he's for Romney in this election.

Yeah, Carter's just a GOP mole. Really playing the long game there.

Why then, is he taking a position, in the midst of the election, designed to sap support for the incumbent Democratic President, when the other guy is 100x worse? Please, answer this question directly.

There's something to be said for the facts and context. Is he making it more or less likely that the things he complains of will continue? Romney gonna stop drone strikes? You really believe that?

Seriously, up is down these days.


Sometimes people say things because they genuinely believe them. Sometimes they call out bad behavior because that behavior is hurting people and they would like it to stop. Sometimes things are said because they need saying, not as part of idiotic game designed to score points instead of actually get things done and make the world a better place.
posted by Legomancer at 5:04 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu wrote: I'm pretty sure the Sandinistas were a popular movement, but I wasn't there, what would I know?

Well, what can I tell you? You'd be wrong if you thought that the folks not at the top who were still high enough on the social scale to have a bit of property weren't rightly afraid of having their property expropriated and being put up against the wall. Neither side avoided extrajudicial killings, even before the US became involved. (In any of the notionally civil wars I remember, anyway)

For a long time I was strongly against our Latin American interventions in every way. It's very easy when you're something of a leftist like myself. Then I actually had conversations with people who lived through those times and it became very clear that the situation was not as cut and dry as I had previously believed. I was just talking with someone the other day who lived through Franco in Spain, Hitler in France, and Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. I think she probably knows a bit more than any of us what it was like living under the right winger dictatorships. And, as a dyed in the wool socialist living in countries with active revolutionary groups for longer than most any of us have graced this Earth with our presence, I think she knows a bit more than many of us what that actually meant, given that she had family imprisoned, property expropriated and was forced into near-starvation level subsistence several times in her life. (by both leftists and rightists, interestingly)
posted by wierdo at 7:43 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Only a US citizen could proclaim with a straight face that the USA has ever been the global champion of human rights.

If you go by what the current opinion seems to be here wherein only rich white men are considered actual humans deserving of rights, then yes, the USA is the strongest champion of human rights that the world has ever known.
posted by elizardbits at 9:16 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any particular reason?

ANYONE WHO THINKS CARTER IS A MAN OF PEACE NEEDS TO TALK TO THE BUNNIES.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:30 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you go by what the current opinion seems to be here wherein only rich white men are considered actual humans deserving of rights, then yes, the USA is the strongest champion of human rights that the world has ever known.

This reminds me of whenever I hear people talking about Mad Men, remarking on how swank and alpha and cool "life was back then". I'm just like, "Have you ever watched the show?"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:39 AM on June 26, 2012


In fact the U.S. has been a tireless champion of at least one human right the world over for many decades: The right of humans with money to make more money.

Which to be more serious for a moment, explains why so many in America have been so willing to support our actions abroad: they see the right to better one's economic condition through individual initiative as absolutely central. And Communist regimes are not exactly big on that.

So while our government is mainly fighting for the rights ot the wealthy and of corporations, it really doesn't take much stretching to cast that as fighting for the individual liberties of the little guy. Just as long as you don't look too closely at the regimes we support[ed], and how they really treated the little guy.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:01 AM on June 26, 2012


wierdo wrote:

> For a long time I was strongly against our Latin American interventions in every way.

[...]

> I think she probably knows a bit more than any of us what it was like living under the right winger dictatorships.

I guess I have no idea what you are talking about here. Hasn't the US consistently supported the right-wing dictatorships in Latin America? Wasn't the US on good terms with Trujillo and Franco? Haven't the "interventions" been exclusively to take down left-wing governments?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:32 AM on June 26, 2012


l_y, finish reading the comment. The left wingers were often just as bad. Their records are pretty similar. Occasionally you'd see communist revolutionaries who, at least initially, weren't all into throwing people in prison and taking everything they had. Occasionally, you'd see right wingers act similarly.

I'm not arguing that the US didn't support bad people, I'm saying that the other side was often cut from the same cloth. Leftist authoritarians are no better than rightist authoritarians. The individual may be, but as a whole, both sides were disgusting thugs.

Also, in the interest of the historical record, the US never really gave a shit what went on as long as property wasn't being expropriated from rich Americans and the governments didn't call themselves Communist and publicly align themselves with Moscow. (even though they often did the latter because the US refused to get involved while the USSR did not) IOW, it was more about helping rich people and saving face on the world stage. Beyond that, any level of fuckery was tolerated no matter whether they called themselves leftist or rightist.
posted by wierdo at 12:44 PM on June 26, 2012


All this talk about "Hope" is asinine. Hope is just as hollow as faith.

I disagree. Hope is an imaginative positive expectation of what should become. It's motivation for the effort the achievement requires and vital when the near and short term appear bleak.

In this context it means reading Carter's Op-Ed as a reminder that we ought to re-inject (or merely "inject") strong support for human rights into the national agenda. And for those of us (such as me), who haven't done much, it's an opportunity to ask ourselves what we can do.
posted by notyou at 12:58 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


wierdo:

I did read all the comment, I don't understand it, or your explanation.

Here's Here's a wikipedia article that lists the Latin American "interventions". Can you point out which "interventions" in this list you're talking about?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:02 PM on June 26, 2012


I don't believe I ever said the US intervened on the side of left wingers. I did state that the US often didn't bother when the interests of the US wealthy were not threatened and the leftists didn't call themselves communists or take support from the USSR and/or its proxies.

I also relayed the experience of someone who lived through much turmoil and whose family was fucked over repeatedly by both left and right wing extremists. That is why I pointed out in my first comment that at least some people in the countries in which we intervened were actually asking/hoping for an intervention.

It is definitely a lot easier to labor under the assumption that the rightists were the only bad actors (or vice versa), so feel free to believe whatever you like. Unfortunately, life is more complex than that. The lady I was speaking of (and who I happen to be eating ice cream with at the moment, rudely typing away on MetaFilter instead of engaging in conversation with her and the rest of the group) absolutely loves the US. I guess being the beneficiary of the US intervention against Hitler will do that to a person. This despite US support of Franco (who imprisoned her father for several years and expropriated everything short of the clothes the family was wearing when he came to power) and Trujillo. Go figure.

I guess what I'm saying is that the world is more complex than the black and white bullshit thinking that many folks display here on MeFi (and which I am often guilty of myself).
posted by wierdo at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2012


> It is definitely a lot easier to labor under the assumption that the rightists were the only bad actors (or vice versa), so feel free to believe whatever you like.

Talk about a straw man!

> I guess what I'm saying is that the world is more complex than the black and white bullshit thinking that many folks display here on MeFi

And I'm not saying that either. Seems to me you're just ducking the question.

Look - you said:

> For a long time I was strongly against our Latin American interventions in every way.

and continue on in this vein, strongly implying that you had changed your mind somehow because of the experiences of your friend under Trujillo, Hitler and Franco.

So what are those Latin American interventions you changed your mind on? Because that list of interventions is a pretty damning document... and if I am holding your feet to the fire it's because the sorry history of the US in Latin America cannot just be brushed away with "there were bad guys on all sides".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:49 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Overall, Metafilter threads where someone criticizes the United States' human rights and foreign policy follow a very predictable dance.

The immediate impulse is to attack whoever it is who is writing or saying the criticism. Whether it's China or President Carter, there's some way to divert the argument and shoot the messenger.

And then we move right to Realpolitik; "there are bad guys on all sides", "you have to see the bigger picture". Anyone who is against the Way Things Are is naïve, simple-minded, immature or uninformed about the ways of the world, as opposed to the Serious, Sensible People who understand the complexities of this world, who have Been Around.

The fact that the Serious, Sensible People have been in complete consensus on issues from the Guatemalan Coup of 1954 and the start of engagement in Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, the 1973 Chilean Coup, the support of the Contras and the mining of Managua Harbor, through to the Iraq War - and have been wrong every time while the naïve, simple-minded people have been right, well, this inconvenient fact is simply never mentioned.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hunter Thompson liked the Law Day speech.

It's called speaking truth to power. Not very common among politicians. Teddy Kennedy sold the 1980 election out to the Republicans partly because of how Carter handled him at the law day speech. That and the fact that all the Kennedys were mobbed-up machine politicians.

Walter Karp agreed with Thompson about Carter: "For the sake of his argument, Karp must take Carter's outsider persona and populist rhetoric at face value, without examining his background, which, arguably, offers some evidence to the contrary. Still, he makes a convincing case that Carter, like McGovern, was nominated by the voters, and not by the party bosses, who gleefully set about sabotaging him from day one."
posted by warbaby at 6:51 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's right, warbaby.

You take what you can get and bend it to your own ends.

What other ex-President in living memory has stepped so far out of bounds* as Carter has?

------------------
*If only by a discolored toe.
posted by notyou at 9:20 PM on June 26, 2012


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