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Old 11-20-2002, 06:36 PM   #1
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The New Republic slams Jimmy Carter

TRB FROM WASHINGTON
Prize Fight
by Peter Beinart

Post date 10.17.02 | Issue date 10.28.02

Two types of people win the Nobel Peace Prize. The first are the more obvious: People who resolve international conflicts. In 1926, Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann won for the Locarno Pact, which supposedly guaranteed the borders of Germany, Belgium, and France. In 1929, America's Frank Kellogg won for the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which the great powers renounced war. In 1973, Henry Kissinger and Vietnam's Le Duc Tho won for ending the Vietnam War. And in 1994, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasir Arafat won for the Oslo Peace Accord between Israel and the Palestinians.

The second type of winners promote peace in a very different way: They don't resolve conflict, they advance freedom. In 1960, the Nobel Committee honored African National Congress leader Albert Luthuli, and, in 1984, it honored Archbishop Desmond Tutu, even though both men pursued conflict with the apartheid state. In 1983, it selected Poland's Lech Walesa; in 1991, Burma's Aung Sun Suu Kyi; and, in 1996, East Timor's Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta. None of these dissidents were peacemakers in the narrow sense; some even rejected negotiations with the regimes that persecuted them. By honoring them, the Nobel Committee implied that conflicts can't truly be resolved without freedom.

Jimmy Carter falls into the first category. In explaining its decision to award Carter the prize last week, the Nobel Committee praised him for championing "mediation and international cooperation" and "respect for human rights." But in reality, Carter's career is marked by fidelity to the former over the latter. As the American Enterprise Institute's Joshua Muravchik detailed in The New Republic in 1994, Carter has repeatedly praised dictators in the name of international rapprochement. In 1977, while pursuing detente with the Soviet bloc, Carter noted that "our concept of human rights is preserved in Poland." The following year he told Romania's hideous dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu, "Our goals are the same, to have a just system of economics and politics. ... We believe in enhancing human rights." And after leaving office, he journeyed to Pyongyang in 1994 to resolve the crisis sparked by late dictator Kim Il Sung's development of nuclear weapons. "People were very friendly and open," Carter remarked about life in arguably the most repressive country on Earth, and he noted "the reverence with which [North Koreans] look upon their leader."

It is precisely this tendency that the Nobel Committee wanted to honor this year. Some commentators have called the prize a long-delayed reward for Carter's work crafting the 1978 Camp David peace deal between Israel and Egypt. But this was hardly the logical year to honor that achievement, given that Israeli-Egyptian relations are at an all-time low. What the committee really wanted to honor was the principle that American presidents should mediate conflicts, not initiate them. It skipped over Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai, presumably because that would have legitimized America's war on terrorism. And it honored Carter's peacemaking as a pointed contrast to George W. Bush's prospective war in Iraq.

The Nobel Committee has now awarded the Peace Prize twice since September 11. And with its selections, it has articulated a view of the post-September 11 world. It sees a clash between Islam and the West that must be stopped through negotiated settlements like Locarno, Oslo, and the treaty ending the Vietnam War. This year it chose Carter, an American who uses moral equivalence as a tool for making peace. And last year it chose U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a diplomat who has placed conflict resolution above human rights in Bosnia, Rwanda, and most recently Iraq. Indeed, if this year's selection was meant to signal the Nobel Committee's opposition to a U.S. attack on Baghdad, last year's presumably signaled the kind of Iraq policy it would prefer: Annan's short-lived 1998 deal with Saddam Hussein, which emasculated the U.N. inspections regime by effectively placing Iraqi presidential sites out of reach.

With its last two choices, the committee has turned its back on that other definition of peace embodied by Walesa, Tutu, and Suu Kyi. Viewed from that other tradition, the post-September 11 world looks not like a conflict between Islam and the West but a conflict within the Islamic world, a conflict in which peace is best achieved not through negotiated settlements but through the advance of freedom. In 1983, when the Nobel Committee chose Walesa, it signaled that totalitarianism, not the cold war, was the problem and that freedom was the answer, not detente. Today it could have sent the same message by choosing one of the many dissidents suffering in relative obscurity under the dictatorships of the Muslim world. It could have chosen Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the Egyptian pro-democracy activist recently thrown back in prison for challenging Hosni Mubarak's repression. It could have chosen Dr. Sima Samar, who ran schools and health clinics for refugee Afghan girls denied education and medicine by the Taliban. It could have chosen Asama Khader, Jordan's foremost crusader against honor killings. Or it could have chosen Iranian philosopher Adbolkarim Soroush, targeted by Tehran's mullahs for advocating separation of mosque and state. Rather than Carter and Annan, world figures who fly in to negotiate with dictators in their palaces, it could have chosen one of the men or women who suffer under those dictators' rule. The Muslim governments that praised Annan's and Carter's selections would have howled with outrage. But they would have howled for the same reason the governments of South Africa, Poland, and Burma howled when their dissidents won the prize: Because the world was no longer indifferent to their peoples' plight.

Nobel Peace Prizes are judgements at a moment in time. But for the prize to maintain its prestige, those judgments must be borne out by history. In the years before World War II, the committee honored the signers of Locarno and Kellogg-Briand, treaties now regarded as historical jokes. But it also provoked Germany's wrath by awarding the 1935 prize to Carl von Ossietzky, a journalist and anti-Nazi activist who learned of his selection in a concentration camp. During the cold war it selected Kissinger, the most amoral of American statesmen, and Le Duc Tho, who went on to lead Hanoi's invasions of South Vietnam and Cambodia. Once again, however, the committee redeemed itself by disregarding objections from Moscow and Warsaw and honoring Andrei Sakharov in 1975 and Walesa in 1983. Perhaps one day the Nobel Committee will realize that the lesson of this new era in international affairs is likely to be the same as the last two: That real peace comes when tyranny ends. I just wish it weren't taking so long.

Peter Beinart is the editor of TNR.
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Old 11-20-2002, 11:43 PM   #2
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NOWHERE does that commentary mention Jimmy Carter's having been instrumental in the founding of Habitat for Humanity, which is an organization that recognizes the *right* of *humans* to live in safe, clean, affordable dwellings--an organization that has built thousands of homes, both in the U.S. and abroad, for deserving working families. But I guess printing that would actually make Carter seem like he deserved the Prize, so...
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Old 11-21-2002, 12:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora
NOWHERE does that commentary mention Jimmy Carter's having been instrumental in the founding of Habitat for Humanity, which is an organization that recognizes the *right* of *humans* to live in safe, clean, affordable dwellings--an organization that has built thousands of homes, both in the U.S. and abroad, for deserving working families. But I guess printing that would actually make Carter seem like he deserved the Prize, so...
i agree completely with you pax, dispite what my may lead you to believe.
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Old 11-21-2002, 12:13 AM   #4
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Habitat for Humanity isn't mentioned by name in the text of the citation for Carter's Nobel Prize. There are a couple sentences about Carter "promoting economic and social development," in which category HfH definitely belongs. But from the last paragraph of the citation and from interviews with members of the Nobel committee, it's clear that the award was intended in part to be a reproach to President Bush and his handling of the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It's also worth mentioning that The New Republic has been a respected liberal publication for close to a century now.

Below are (1) the full text of the Nobel Peace Prize citation and (2) a related article from CNN.com.

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"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter, for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.

"During his presidency (1977-1981), Carter's mediation was a vital contribution to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, in itself a great enough achievement to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"At a time when the cold war between East and West was still predominant, he placed renewed emphasis on the place of human rights in international politics.

"Through his Carter Center, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2002, Carter has since his presidency undertaken very extensive and persevering conflict resolution on several continents.

"He has shown outstanding commitment to human rights, and has served as an observer at countless elections all over the world.

"He has worked hard on many fronts to fight tropical diseases and to bring about growth and progress in developing countries.

"Carter has thus been active in several of the problem areas that have figured prominently in the over one hundred years of Peace Prize history.

"In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development."

-------------------------------

Carter's award a swipe at Bush
Saturday, October 12, 2002 Posted: 8:03 AM EDT (1203 GMT)

Carter has cautioned against military action against Iraq without U.N. sanctioning

OSLO, Norway -- The head of the committee that awarded Jimmy Carter the Nobel Peace Prize said the selection of the former U.S. president "must be seen" as a swipe at current Washington policy on Iraq.

When asked if the award was a criticism of U.S. President George W. Bush, committee head Gunnar Berge said: "With the position Carter has taken on this, it can and must also be seen as criticism of the line the current U.S. administration has taken on Iraq.

"In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international cooperation based on international law, respect for human rights and economic development," Berge said.

"It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States."

However, other Nobel committee members distanced themselves from Berge's criticism of Bush, saying he was expressing a personal opinion and that such criticism was not part of the discussions leading to the prize.

"In the committee, we didn't discuss what sort of interpretation of the grounds there should be. It wasn't a topic," committee member Hanna Kvanmo of the Socialist Left Party was quoted as telling the Norwegian news agency NTB.

Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, another committee member and former parliamentarian of a far-right party, said the prize was not meant to fault Washington.

"There is nothing about that in the citation ... and that text expresses the committee's view," she said.

But committee secretary Geir Lundestad said "there can't be much doubt" that the phrasing of the official citation is an indirect criticism of Bush.

Lundestad, secretary since 1990, does not have voting power. He stressed the committee's selection of Carter was unanimous.

Committee member Gunnar Staalsett said he fully supported the remarks and agreed the citation was indeed a criticism of Bush, The Associated Press reported.

"Berge offered an interpretation that I have no problem in supporting," Staalsett said.

Berge later conceded that other committee members might have phrased their response to questions about Iraq differently.

Carter, who was given the prestigious award on Friday in part for his work on the Camp David Mideast peace deal and North Korea, has come out against military action against Iraq without U.N. approval.

His stance goes against the tough position taken by Bush, who has received authorisation from the U.S. Congress to commit American troops to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions requiring Iraq to give up weapons of mass destruction.

Carter, who was president between 1977 and 1981, said it would be a tragic and costly error for the U.S. to attack the Iraqi regime of President Saddam Hussein without going through the United Nations.

The peace prize committee has often used the award to send a message to governments but rarely makes comments as direct as Berge's.

The Soviet Union was angered by the 1975 award to human rights campaigner Andrei Sakharov, and China was angered by the 1989 prize to the Dalai Lama months after the Tiananmen massacre.

Anti-landmine campaigners were honoured in 1997 for hammering out a treaty opposed by the United States. And in 1935, anti-Nazi journalist Carl von Ossietzky's prize prompted Hitler to ban Germans from accepting Nobels.

Stein Toennesson, director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, told the AP he thought Carter won because no other clear candidate emerged and the committee wanted to send a subtle message to Washington.

"Berge was just too direct," Toennesson said.

The last public dispute on the committee was in 1994, when member Kaare Kristiansen quit rather than be party to a prize that included Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who shared the honour with Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

In an interview with CNN, Carter said, "Obviously, I'm very grateful to the Nobel committee for choosing me. I think they've announced very clearly that the work of the Carter Center has been a wonderful contribution to the world for the last 20 years."

The 78-year-old ex-president had been close to winning the $1 million award in 1978, when Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat shared the award.

The committee that year had wanted to give Carter the prize but he had not been formally nominated by the February deadline, Reuters said.

Carter has also been nominated on a number of other occasions.

The 2002 five-member committee said Carter, a former peanut farmer, had been recognised for decades of "untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."

Carter' s own presidency faltered and he was defeated after one term by Republican Ronald Reagan amid the debacle of the Iran hostage crisis.
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