President Carter’s Failed Presidency

In an earlier post I had stated that if not for the Israeli-Egyptian peace accord, President Carter’s Presidency would have been a complete failure.  Those of us who lived through his Presidency remember the low moral in the country.  Unemployment was at or near 6%, (which seems low by today’s standards).  Interest rates reached as high as 21% and inflation was approximately 13%.  On top of that, Iran had succeeded in making us look like a second rate power.  The Iranian Hostage Crisis was certainly one of the lowest points in American Foreign Policy.  President Carter’s handling of the crisis showed what a weak President he was.  For those of you who may not not be aware, an embassy, by very definition, is a piece of your country in another country.  If invaded or taken over, it is no different than if the mainland of your country is invaded.  There is no grey area here.  When our embassy was overrun, the correct response to the Iranian government should have been to allow them 72 hours to return our embassy personnel or have war declared on the Iranian nation.  Now I know that may seem harsh, but it would have served two purposes, 1) we would have been negotiating from a position of strength and 2) we would have shown all potential future enemies, (Al Quaeda for one), that we will not tollerate violence against our country or it’s citizens.  It is true that it might have jeopardized the lives of the hostages but we might also have detered them from all of the violence that Iran supported since that time.  I had the privledge of interviewing one of the former hostages, Barry Rosen when I was in graduate school and while he appreciated and welcomed the eventual outcome of the crisis, he told me that he would have understood if the President  attacked Iran in response, thereby jeopardizing all of their lives.  I suppose it’s a risk you take by working in a hostile territory.  Had President Carter taken swift and  decisive action during that crisis, the world today might look very different.  Violent government’s will only negotiate when a man of power is in charge.  President Reagan declared to Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall” there was command, belief and strength behind him.  Not long after, the wall was gone.   It may be oversimplified, but it’s a lesson that to this day, the former President could never comprehend.

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