Last modified on 1 October 2014, at 21:59

Jimmy Carter

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

James Earl Carter, Jr. (born 1 October 1924) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he established the Carter Center, as a base for promoting human rights, democracy, finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts, and advancing economic and social development, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project, and has been noted for his criticism of Israel's role in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

QuotesEdit

We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.
I see an America on the move again, united, a diverse and vital and tolerant nation, entering our third century with pride and confidence, an America that lives up to the majesty of our Constitution and the simple decency of our people.

Pre-PresidencyEdit

  • At the end of a long campaign, I believe I know the people of our state as well as anyone. Based on this knowledge of Georgians North and South, Rural and Urban, liberal and conservative, I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over.
    • Gubernatorial Inaugural Address (12 January 1971)
  • We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.
    • Addressing a Bible class in Plains, Georgia (March 1976), as quoted in Boston Sunday Herald Advertiser (11 April 1976)
  • I have nothing against a community that is made up of people who are Polish, or who are Czechoslovakians, or who are French Canadians or who are blacks trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods. This is a natural inclination. … Government should not break up a neighborhood on a numerical basis. As soon as the Government does, the white folks flee.
  • I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows I will do this and forgives me.
    • Interview in Playboy magazine (1976), while a candidate for President.

First Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech (1976)Edit

First Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech (15 July 1976)
  • My name is Jimmy Carter, and I’m running for President.
    It’s been a long time since I said those words the first time, and now I’ve come here after seeing our great country to accept your nomination.
  • There is a new mood in America. We have been shaken by a tragic war abroad and by scandals and broken promises at home. Our people are searching for new voices and new ideas and new leaders.
    Although government has its limits and cannot solve all our problems, we Americans reject the view that we must be reconciled to failures and mediocrity, or to an inferior quality of life. For I believe that we can come through this time of trouble stronger than ever. Like troops who have been in combat, we have been tempered in the fire; we have been disciplined, and we have been educated.
    Guided by lasting and simple moral values, we have emerged idealists without illusions, realists who still know the old dreams of justice and liberty, of country and of community.
  • Any system of economics is bankrupt if it sees either value or virtue in unemployment. We simply cannot check inflation by keeping people out of work..
  • Our nation should always derive its character directly from the people and let this be the strength and the image to be presented to the world — the character of the American people.
    To our friends and allies I say that what unites us through our common dedication to democracy is much more important than that which occasionally divides us on economics or politics. To the nations that seek to lift themselves from poverty I say that America shares your aspirations and extends its hand to you. To those nation-states that wish to compete with us I say that we neither fear competition nor see it as an obstacle to wider cooperation. To all people I say that after two hundred years America still remains confident and youthful in its commitment to freedom and equality, and we always will be.
  • I see an America on the move again, united, a diverse and vital and tolerant nation, entering our third century with pride and confidence, an America that lives up to the majesty of our Constitution and the simple decency of our people.
    This is the America we want. This is the America that we will have.

Presidency (1977-1981)Edit

Being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear. I’m glad that that’s being changed.
We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.
Our pursuit of human rights is part of a broad effort to use our great power and our tremendous influence in the service of creating a better world, a world in which human beings can live in peace, in freedom, and with their basic needs adequately met.
  • The destruction was mutual. We went to Vietnam without any desire to capture territory or impose American will on other people. I don't feel that we ought to apologize or castigate ourselves or to assume the status of culpability.
    • Statement quoted in the Los Angeles Times (25 March 1977)
  • Democracy’s great recent successes — in India, Portugal, Spain, Greece — show that our confidence in this system is not misplaced. Being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear. I’m glad that that’s being changed.
    For too many years, we’ve been willing to adopt the flawed and erroneous principles and tactics of our adversaries, sometimes abandoning our own values for theirs. We’ve fought fire with fire, never thinking that fire is better quenched with water. This approach failed, with Vietnam the best example of its intellectual and moral poverty. But through failure we have now found our way back to our own principles and values, and we have regained our lost confidence.
  • Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.
    • Message to Congress (2 August 1977)
  • We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some — perhaps many – may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message:
This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.
  • We believe in the right of every country to be free from interference in its own internal affairs by another country. And we believe that world peace can come — which we both devoutly hope to see — through mutual respect, even among those who have some differences between us.
    Our goals are also the same, to have a just system of economics and politics, to let the people of the world share in growth, in peace, in personal freedom, and in the benefits to be derived from the proper utilization of natural resources. We believe in enhancing human rights. We believe that we should enhance, as independent nations, the freedom of our own people.
    • Welcoming ceremony for Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania (12 April 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 735
  • We have the heaviest concentration of lawyers on Earthone for every five-hundred Americans; three times as many as are in England, four times as many as are in West Germany, twenty-one times as many as there are in Japan. We have more litigation, but I am not sure that we have more justice. No resources of talent and training in our own society, even including the medical care, is more wastefully or unfairly distributed than legal skills. Ninety percent of our lawyers serve 10 percent of our people. We are over-lawyered and under-represented.
    • Remarks at the 100th Anniversary Luncheon of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (4 May 1978)
  • I want to stress again that human rights are not peripheral to the foreign policy of the United States. Our pursuit of human rights is part of a broad effort to use our great power and our tremendous influence in the service of creating a better world, a world in which human beings can live in peace, in freedom, and with their basic needs adequately met.
    • Remarks at a White House meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (6 December 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 2163
  • Human rights is the soul of our foreign policy, because human rights is the very soul of our sense of nationhood.
    • Remarks at a White House meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (6 December 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 2164
  • In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy…. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.
  • I thought a lot about our Nation and what I should do as President. And Sunday night before last, I made a speech about two problems of our country — energy and malaise.
    • Remarks at a town meeting, Bardstown, Kentucky (31 July 1979), referring to his The Crisis of Confidence address (he did not actually use the word "malaise" in that earlier speech), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1979, Book 2, p. 1340
  • History teaches, perhaps, very few clear lessons. But surely one such lesson learned by the world at great cost is that aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease.
  • A party with a narrow vision, a party that is afraid of the future, a party whose leaders are inclined to shoot from the hip, a party that has never been willing to put its investment in human beings who are below them in economic and social status.

Inaugural Address (1977)Edit

For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.
In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation.
Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Address (20 January 1977)
We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so sufficient that it need not be proven in combat – a quiet strength based not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of ideas.
  • For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.
    In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation.
  • Ours was the first society openly to define itself in terms of both spirituality and of human liberty. It is that unique self-definition which has given us an exceptional appeal, but it also imposes on us a special obligation, to take on those moral duties which, when assumed, seem invariably to be in our own best interests.
  • Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together in the right.
  • We have already found a high degree of personal liberty, and we are now struggling to enhance equality of opportunity. Our commitment to human rights must be absolute, our laws fair, our natural beauty preserved; the powerful must not persecute the weak, and human dignity must be enhanced.
  • To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others. We will not behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards here at home, for we know that the trust which our Nation earns is essential to our strength.
  • The world itself is now dominated by a new spirit. Peoples more numerous and more politically aware are craving and now demanding their place in the sun – not just for the benefit of their own physical condition, but for basic human rights.
    The passion for freedom is on the rise. Tapping this new spirit, there can be no nobler nor more ambitious task for America to undertake on this day of a new beginning than to help shape a just and peaceful world that is truly humane.
    We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so sufficient that it need not be proven in combat – a quiet strength based not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of ideas.
    We will be ever vigilant and never vulnerable, and we will fight our wars against poverty, ignorance, and injustice – for those are the enemies against which our forces can be honorably marshaled.

    We are a purely idealistic Nation, but let no one confuse our idealism with weakness.
    Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clearcut preference for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for individual human rights. We do not seek to intimidate, but it is clear that a world which others can dominate with impunity would be inhospitable to decency and a threat to the well-being of all people.

The Crisis of Confidence (1979)Edit

The Crisis of Confidence (15 July 1979)
  • I know, of course, being President, that government actions and legislation can be very important. That's why I've worked hard to put my campaign promises into law — and I have to admit, with just mixed success. But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.
    I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.
    The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.
    The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
    The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July.
    It is the idea which founded our Nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else — public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.
    Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.
  • In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.
    The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.
    As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.
    These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.
    We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.
  • We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.
    We ourselves are the same Americans who just 10 years ago put a man on the Moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.
    We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self- interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.
    All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our Nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.
    Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

Farewell Address (1981)Edit

America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.
The fundamental force that unites us is not kinship or place of origin or religious preference. The love of liberty is a common blood that flows in our American veins.
Farewell Address (14 January 1981)
  • I am now more convinced than ever that the United States — better than any other nation — can meet successfully whatever the future might bring.
    These last four years have made me more certain than ever of the inner strength of our country — the unchanging value of our principles and ideals, the stability of our political system, the ingenuity and the decency of our people.
  • Within our system of government every American has a right and duty to help shape the future course of the United States.
    Thoughtful criticism and close scrutiny of all government officials by the press and the public are an important part of our democratic society. Now as in our past, only the understanding and involvement of the people through full and open debate can help to avoid serious mistakes and assure the continued dignity and safety of the nation.
  • Today we are asking our political system to do things of which the founding fathers never dreamed. The government they designed for a few hundred thousand people now serves a nation of almost 230 million people. Their small coastal republic now spans beyond a continent, and we now have the responsibility to help lead much of the world through difficult times to a secure and prosperous future.
    Today, as people have become ever more doubtful of the ability of the government to deal with our problems, we are increasingly drawn to single-issue groups and special interest organizations to ensure that whatever else happens our own personal views and our own private interests are protected.
    This is a disturbing factor in American political life. It tends to distort our purposes because the national interest is not always the sum of all our single or special interests. We are all Americans together — and we must not forget that the common good is our common interest and our individual responsibility.
  • National weakness — real or perceived — can tempt aggression and thus cause war. That's why the United States cannot neglect its military strength. We must and we will remain strong. But with equal determination, the United States and all countries must find ways to control and reduce the horrifying danger that is posed by the world's enormous stockpiles of nuclear arms.
    This has been a concern of every American president since the moment we first saw what these weapons could do. Our leaders will require our understanding and our support as they grapple with this difficult but crucial challenge. There is no disagreement on the goals or the basic approach to controlling this enormous destructive force. The answer lies not just in the attitudes or actions of world leaders, but in the concern and demands of all of us as we continue our struggle to preserve the peace.
  • Nuclear weapons are an expression of one side of our human character. But there is another side. The same rocket technology that delivers nuclear warheads has also taken us peacefully into space. From that perspective, we see our Earth as it really is — a small and fragile and beautiful blue globe, the only home we have. We see no barriers of race or religion or country. We see the essential unity of our species and our planet; and with faith and common sense, that bright vision will ultimately prevail.
    Another major challenge, therefore, is to protect the quality of this world within which we live. The shadows that fail across the future are cast not only by the kinds of weapons we have built, but by the kind of world we will either nourish or neglect.
  • Acknowledging the physical realities of our planet does not mean a dismal future of endless sacrifice. In fact, acknowledging these realities is the first step in dealing with them. We can meet the resource problems of the world — water, food, minerals, farmlands, forests, overpopulation, pollution — if we tackle them with courage and foresight.
  • I have just been talking about forces of potential destruction that mankind has developed, and how we might control them. It is equally important that we remember the beneficial forces that we have evolved over the ages, and how to hold fast to them.
    One of those constructive forces is enhancement of individual human freedoms through the strengthening of democracy, and the fight against deprivation, torture, terrorism and the persecution of people throughout the world. The struggle for human rights overrides all differences of color, nation or language.
    Those who hunger for freedom, who thirst for human dignity, and who suffer for the sake of justice — they are the patriots of this cause.
    I believe with all my heart that America must always stand for these basic human rights — at home and abroad. That is both our history and our destiny.
    America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.
    Ours was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded explicitly on such an idea.
    Our social and political progress has been based on one fundamental principle — the value and importance of the individual. The fundamental force that unites us is not kinship or place of origin or religious preference. The love of liberty is a common blood that flows in our American veins.
  • The battle for human rights — at home and abroad — is far from over. We should never be surprised nor discouraged because the impact of our efforts has had, and will always have, varied results. Rather, we should take pride that the ideals which gave birth to our nation still inspire the hopes of oppressed people around the world. We have no cause for self-righteousness or complacency. But we have every reason to persevere, both within our own country and beyond our borders.
    If we are to serve as a beacon for human rights, we must continue to perfect here at home the rights and values which we espouse around the world: A decent education for our children, adequate medical care for all Americans, an end to discrimination against minorities and women, a job for all those able to work, and freedom from injustice and religious intolerance.
  • We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities— not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.

Post-PresidencyEdit

  • Except during my childhood, when I was probably influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel depiction of God with a flowing white beard, I have never tried to project the Creator in any kind of human likeness. The vociferous debates about whether God is male or female seem ridiculous to me. I think of God as an omnipotent and omniscient presence, a spirit that permeates the universe, the essence of truth, nature, being, and life. To me, these are profound and indescribable concepts that seem to be trivialized when expressed in words.
    • Living Faith (2001), p. 222
  • The existing and long-standing use of the word 'evolution' in our state's textbooks has not adversely affected Georgians' belief in the omnipotence of God as creator of the universe, There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy. There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.
    • Carter slams Georgia's 'evolution' proposal, 30 January, 2004[1]
  • Iraq is an unjust war. I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false.
  • This war has been motivated by pride or arrogance, by a desire to control oil wealth, by a desire to implant our programs.
  • Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.
  • Since I was 18 years old, I have taught the Bible. For the last fifteen or twenty years, I have taught every Sunday when I was home or near my own house, so that would be 35 or 40 times per year. Half of those Sundays, the text comes from the Hebrew Bible. I have had a deep personal interest in the Holy Land and in the teachings of the Hebrew people. God has a special position for the Jewish people, the Hebrews, or whatever. I know the difference between ancient Israel and Judaea, and I know the history. I don’t have any problem with the Jewish people.
  • I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls, largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare.
    • A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power (2014)

Nobel lecture (2002)Edit

The unchanging principles of life predate modern times
Lecture in Oslo, Norway (10 December 2002), after receiving the Nobel peace prize.
The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes — and we must.
  • Most Nobel Laureates have carried out our work in safety, but there are others who have acted with great personal courage. None has provided more vivid reminders of the dangers of peacemaking than two of my friends, Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, who gave their lives for the cause of peace in the Middle East.
  • The world has changed greatly since I left the White House. Now there is only one superpower, with unprecedented military and economic strength. The coming budget for American armaments will be greater than those of the next fifteen nations combined, and there are troops from the United States in many countries throughout the world. Our gross national economy exceeds that of the three countries that follow us, and our nation's voice most often prevails as decisions are made concerning trade, humanitarian assistance, and the allocation of global wealth. This dominant status is unlikely to change in our lifetimes.
    Great American power and responsibility are not unprecedented, and have been used with restraint and great benefit in the past. We have not assumed that super strength guarantees super wisdom, and we have consistently reached out to the international community to ensure that our own power and influence are tempered by the best common judgment.
    Within our country, ultimate decisions are made through democratic means, which tend to moderate radical or ill-advised proposals. Constrained and inspired by historic constitutional principles, our nation has endeavored for more than two hundred years to follow the now almost universal ideals of freedom, human rights, and justice for all.
  • Ladies and gentlemen: Twelve years ago, President Mikhail Gorbachev received your recognition for his preeminent role in ending the Cold War that had lasted fifty years. But instead of entering a millennium of peace, the world is now, in many ways, a more dangerous place. The greater ease of travel and communication has not been matched by equal understanding and mutual respect. There is a plethora of civil wars, unrestrained by rules of the Geneva Convention, within which an overwhelming portion of the casualties are unarmed civilians who have no ability to defend themselves. And recent appalling acts of terrorism have reminded us that no nations, even superpowers, are invulnerable. It is clear that global challenges must be met with an emphasis on peace, in harmony with others, with strong alliances and international consensus.
  • I am not here as a public official, but as a citizen of a troubled world who finds hope in a growing consensus that the generally accepted goals of society are peace, freedom, human rights, environmental quality, the alleviation of suffering, and the rule of law.
  • The unchanging principles of life predate modern times. I worship Jesus Christ, whom we Christians consider to be the Prince of Peace. As a Jew, he taught us to cross religious boundaries, in service and in love. He repeatedly reached out and embraced Roman conquerors, other Gentiles, and even the more despised Samaritans.
    Despite theological differences, all great religions share common commitments that define our ideal secular relationships. I am convinced that Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and others can embrace each other in a common effort to alleviate human suffering and to espouse peace.
    But the present era is a challenging and disturbing time for those whose lives are shaped by religious faith based on kindness toward each other. We have been reminded that cruel and inhuman acts can be derived from distorted theological beliefs, as suicide bombers take the lives of innocent human beings, draped falsely in the cloak of God's will. With horrible brutality, neighbors have massacred neighbors in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
    In order for us human beings to commit ourselves personally to the inhumanity of war, we find it necessary first to dehumanize our opponents, which is in itself a violation of the beliefs of all religions. Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God's mercy and grace, their lives lose all value. We deny personal responsibility when we plant landmines and, days or years later, a stranger to us — often a child – is crippled or killed. From a great distance, we launch bombs or missiles with almost total impunity, and never want to know the number or identity of the victims.
  • The most serious and universal problem is the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth. Citizens of the ten wealthiest countries are now seventy-five times richer than those who live in the ten poorest ones, and the separation is increasing every year, not only between nations but also within them.
  • Ladies and gentlemen: War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.
  • The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes — and we must.

DNC address (2004)Edit

Address to the Democratic National Convention (26 July 2004)
  • My name is Jimmy Carter, and I'm not running for president.
  • As many of you may know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace.
    I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties, both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.
    They knew the horrors of war. And later as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment, and they had a clear sense of mission.
    We had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger.
    We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved our national security.
  • Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.
    Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world.
    Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people.
    When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken.
  • After 9/11, America stood proud -- wounded, but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
    Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.
    Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support.
    We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights.
    But recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice.
    What a difference these few months of extremism have made.
    The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war.
  • In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.
    First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs.
    Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.
    Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country.
    Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.
    And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
  • Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America's role in the world.
    At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul.
  • I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.

And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: Do not underestimate us Americans.

  • Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America's role in the world. At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul. But I am not discouraged. I really am not. I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe, as I always have, the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.

Our Endangered Values (2005)Edit

I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God's standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.
Some of our actions are similar to those of abusive regimes that we have historically condemned.
Instead of honoring the historic restraints, our political leaders decided to violate them, using the excuse that we are at war against terrorism. It is obvious that the Geneva Conventions were designed specifically to protect prisoners of war, not prisoners of peace.
I never felt that my dedication to military service was a violation of my faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
For me personally and for most other Americans, this commitment to peace and diplomacy does not imply a blind or total pacifism. There are times when war is justified, and for many centuries the moral criteria for violence have been carefully delineated.
  • I have experienced the intensity of patriotism as a submarine officer, the ambitions of a competitive businessman, and the intensity of political debate. I have been sorely tempted to launch a military attack on foreigners, and have felt the frustration of having to negotiate with allies or even former enemies to reach a consensus instead of taking more decisive unilateral action.
    • Page 5
  • I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God's standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.
    • Page 28
  • A Contemplation of What Has Been Created, and Why
    I tried to fathom nature's laws
    From twirling models and schoolroom sketches
    Of molecules and parts of atoms,
    And nearly believed- but then came quarks,
    Bosons, leptons, antiparticles,
    Opposite turning mirror images,
    Some that perforate the earth,
    Never swerving from their certain paths.
    I've listened to conflicting views
    About the grand and lesser worlds:
    A big bang where it all began;
    Of curved, ever-expanding space;
    Perhaps tremendous whirling yo-yos
    That will someday reach the end
    Of cosmic gravity and then
    Fly back to where they can restart
    Or cataclysmically blow apart-
    And then, and then the next event.
    And is that all an accident?
    • Pages 51-52
  • For instance, I have never believed that Jesus Christ would approve either abortions or the death penalty, but I obeyed such Supreme Court decisions to the best of my ability, at the same time attempting to minimize what I considered to be their adverse impact.
    • Page 57
  • The government and the church are two different realms of service, and those in political office have to face a subtle but important difference between the implementation of the high ideals of religious faith and public duty.
    • Pages 57-58
  • There is a strong religious commitment to the sanctity of human life, but, paradoxically, some of the most fervent protectors of microscopic stem cells are the most ardent proponents of the death penalty.
    • Page 78
  • Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and justifying their belief on an erroneous interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures. "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," their most likely response, overlooks the fact that this was promulgated by Moses as a limitation- a prohibition against taking both eyes or all of an offender's teeth in retribution.
    • Page 82
  • Eight years before he became vice president, Richard Cheney spelled out this premise in his "Defense Strategy for the 1990s." Either before or soon after 9/11, he and his close associates chose Iraq as the first major target, apparently to remove a threat to Israel and to have Iraq serve as our permanent military, economic, and political base in the Middle East.
    • Page 100
  • Formerly admired almost universally as the preeminent champion of human rights, the United States now has become one of the foremost targets of respected international organizations concerned about these basic principles of democratic life. Some of our actions are similar to those of abusive regimes that we have historically condemned.
    • Pages 117-118
  • It is apparent that prisoners of war are among the most vulnerable of people. Not only are they completely under the control of their captors, but in a time of conflict, the hatred and brutality of the battlefield are very likely to be mirrored within military prison walls.
    • Pages 125-126
  • The authenticity and universal applicability of these guarantees were never questioned by a democratic power — until recently, and by America! Instead of honoring the historic restraints, our political leaders decided to violate them, using the excuse that we are at war against terrorism. It is obvious that the Geneva Conventions were designed specifically to protect prisoners of war, not prisoners of peace.
    • Pages 126-127
  • Aside from the humanitarian aspects, it is well known that, under excruciating torture, a prisoner will admit almost any suggested crime. Such confessions are, of course, not admissible in trials in civilized nations. The primary goal of torture or the threat of torture is not to obtain convictions for crimes, but to engender and maintain fear. Some of our leaders have found that it is easy to forgo human rights for those who are considered to be subhuman, or "enemy combatants."
    • Page 129
  • With massive arsenals still on hair-trigger alert, a global holocaust is just as possible now, through mistakes or misjudgments, as it was during the depths of the Cold War.
    • Page 141
  • I never felt that my dedication to military service was a violation of my faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
    • Page 147
  • For me personally and for most other Americans, this commitment to peace and diplomacy does not imply a blind or total pacifism. There are times when war is justified, and for many centuries the moral criteria for violence have been carefully delineated.
    • Page 151
  • When combined, the small individual contributors of caring, friendship, forgiveness, and love, each of us different from our next-door neighbors, can form a phalanx, an army, with great capability.
    • Page 186
  • It is good to know that our nation's defenses against a conventional attack are impregnable, and an imperative that America remain vigilant against threats from terrorists. But as is the case with a human being, admirable characteristics of a nation are not defined by size and physical prowess. What are some of the other attributes of a superpower? Once again, they might very well mirror those of a person. These would include a demonstrable commitment to truth, justice, peace, freedom, humility, human rights, generosity, and the upholding of other moral values.
    • Page 199

Quotations about CarterEdit

Religion always functions best at the margins of society and not in the councils of power, and I think Jimmy Carter’s career illustrates that beautifully. ~ Randall Balmer
Alphabetized by author
  • The Carter administration set a goal of deriving 20 percent of U.S. energy needs from such renewable sources by the turn of the century. Today, the U.S. gets a mere 7 percent of its energy from renewables, the bulk of that from the massive hydroelectric dams constructed in the middle of the 20th century. Solar thermal and photovoltaic technology combined provide less than 0.1 percent.
    By 1986, the Reagan administration had gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies — recommitting the nation to reliance on cheap but polluting fossil fuels, often from foreign suppliers.
  • Mr. Carter has presented a tour de force of the global abuse and manipulation of women, including statistics that will stun most readers with details that cannot be ignored. More importantly, he makes the argument that the treatment of women in world societies cannot and should not be justified by religious texts or appeals to ancestral tradition.
    Coming from a "Sunday school teacher," the book is designed to shock us into the reality that the social creation of gender roles is not "the divine will." Rather, gender roles are the result of human social control, greed, power politics and the continued pursuit of sexual gratification that blames all women for the crime of seducing men. … Mr. Carter's "A Call to Action" should not only be required reading in America, but should also serve as the template for a complete reinterpretation of the religious views behind our treatment of each other, to discover what he claims is the true meaning behind the miracle of creation.
  • Jimmy Carter has literally become such an anti-Israel bigot that there is a special place in Hell reserved for somebody like that. He has no sympathy or understanding for the suffering of the Jewish people — for the plight of the Jewish people. He loves every Muslim extremist he can find. He thought the former president of Syria — Assad — was a wonderful man. He bounced Yasser Arafat's children on his knee and loved Yasser Arafat and his crooked wife who stole three billion dollars from the Palestinian people, but he never had a kind word to say about almost any Israeli, except a few on the hard left who maybe tended to agree with him. … If you're an Israeli, Carter doesn't like you and if you're an Arab or a muslim, he likes you.
  • Mr. Carter quite simply abdicated the whole responsibility of the presidency while in office. He left the nation at the mercy of its enemies at home and abroad. He was the worst president we ever had.
  • You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here [El Salvador], because they use it only to kill my people.
    • Archbishop Óscar Romero, letter to Jimmy Carter (February 1980)

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