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August 17, 2008


Neoliberals and neocons have a lot to thank Carter for.

He gave us Paul Volcker and that dawn of monetarist fiscal policy that places the concerns of Wall Street ahead of Main Street. Oh, we licked inflation, at the cost of the highest unemployment since the Great Depression.

He legitimized the use of covert action vis-a-vis the Nicaraguan Contras.

His administration encouraged the South Korean military who were facing down labor protesters, leading to a violent backlash that left 3,000 dead.

And don't forget Carter's hand in Afghanistan, where his CIA trained the mujahedeen to fight off the Soviet occupation, laying the perfect groundwork for a young Saudi scion by the name of bin Laden and his nascent violent fundamentalist movement.

And don't forget how Carter befriended the Shah of Iran, leading to the revolution, the hostage crisis, and Carter's defeat at the hands of Reagan.

Carter is really a side issue in the discussion of Bacevich's book. I did think it was worth noting, however, since I am a great admirer of Jimmy Carter in his post-presidential years.

Bacevich envisions a progressive -conservative rapprochement, on foreign policy at least, once the lessons of the Iraq War sink in.

I think Carter would approve.

PS You'll have to enlighten me about Carter's legitimizing covert action in Nicaragua.

Carter was pretty cozy with Nicaragua's Somaza government, even after direct US military aid was cut off in 1978.

After the Sandinistas overthrew the Samoza government in 1979, Carter tried to insist they keep Samoza's National Guard. When they refused, Carter's CIA armed and funded the Contra rebels, and brought elites from Argentina's death squads up to Honduras to train them.

Most of the ignominy of the Contras stuck on Reagan (as much as anything ever stuck on Reagan), but it all started with Carter.

This isn't to say Reagan didn't deserve it. With his 1984 mining of the civilian harbor in Nicaragua, and his "creative" financing of the Contras against the wishes of Congress, Reagan was far worse than Carter in this regard.

But it is no stretch to say that Carter set the tone, both in economic and foreign policy, that enabled most of the significant setbacks of the Reagan/Bush years, much as Wm. Jefferson Clinton would later do for Geo. W. Bush.

Well said by Steve R and Terry. Chomsky calls Nixon the last liberal president, and he contends that all US presidents during my lifetime would be hung if they were tried in an international court with the same rules as the courts that tried Milosevic or Hussein.

While Carter may well be the best of a bad lot, he is no hero, regardless of the opinion of the Democrat shill, Thom Hartmann.

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