Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jimmy Carter's Latest Mess

The dust is still settling from Jimmy Carter’s ill-advised trip to the Middle East, where he met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. Not only was the trip against the wishes of the Administration, the State Department and Israel, but now there are disputes over what Meshaal told Carter and what the State Department told Carter before he left. As might have been predicted, Carter ignored the advice of the responsible parties, went to Syria, has returned proclaiming an opening for “peace in our time”, and is implying that Condoleeza Rice is a liar.

Carter was reportedly told by Meshaal that Hamas would abide by a treaty negotiated by Mahmoud Abbas-as long as it was approved by the Palestinian people (apparently worldwide) and provided for the “Right of Return” of the some 4.5 million Palestinians living around the world. Hamas would not, however, recognize Israel. (Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews).

Not only would those conditions make the continued existence of Israel impossible, what rational person would accept the word of Hamas? It is very clear that the ultimate goal of Hamas, Hizbollah and other entities, such as Iran is the eventual destruction of Israel. Yet, Jimmy Carter continues in his folly of believing that he can negotiate peace with terrorists. Carter has returned from his trip insisting that Hamas should be a partner to negotiations - in contravention of US and Israeli policy. Thus, this trip is a worthy follow-up to his personal mission to North Korea, which only resulted in the Clinton Administration being hoodwinked by Kim Jong Il over nuclear reactors.

Not only did Carter meet with a terrorist leader, he also went to Ramallah, where he laid a wreath on the grave of the dead terrorist leader, Yassir Arafat, a man who died with much blood on his hands and much Palestinian money in the hands of his widow now living in style in Paris.

Let’s be clear: Jimmy Carter is no friend or supporter of Israel. He is squarely on the side of the Palestinians-no matter how many rocket attacks they launch into Israel, no matter how many suicide bombings they conduct. Many in Israel-and in the US regard him as an anti-Semite. I am not prepared to make that leap yet, but his sympathies are on the wrong side. Yet, he insists on conducting his own diplomacy notwithstanding the fact that the US and Israel are firm allies.

It should also be pointed out that Carter’s meddling has only created diplomatic confusion for the US in its own efforts in the Middle East. Whatever one might think of the Bush Administration’s handling of the region, Carter’s trip has raised doubts among our allies in the region over whether the US might be engaged in some sort of back-channel diplomacy-without their knowledge. Carter’s meeting with Hamas has also given prestige and credibility to a terrorist organization that deserves neither.

As if that wasn’t enough, Carter is now adding insult to injury by denying the claims of Rice and the State Department that the Department had advised Carter not to go and meet with Hamas. Carter claims that he called Rice’s office to give them details of his itinerary. Rice was out of town and an assistant secretary returned the call. Carter insists this person never advised him or asked him not to go. The State Department and Rice stand by their statement that they did in fact counsel against the meeting. Now Carter, through the Carter Center, has implied that Rice is lying over this point. (The State Department official who spoke to Carter has been identified as David Welch). What a spectacle for the rest of the world to watch a former president embarrass his own government.

So once again, Jimmy Carter, who even Democrats acknowledge was a failed president, has continued his legacy of meddling in foreign affairs, and, as is his specialty, making a mess of everything. History will record that instead of rehabilitating his sorry legacy after leaving the White House, he is only making it worse.

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