Sunday, December 17, 2006

The last angry Democrat - Quite understandably, a furor has erupted over Jimmy Carter's latest book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. Apart from the title, which has required some explanation on Mr. Carter's part, reports on the book's content seem to suggest that he is of the opinion that (as reported by the NYT) "Israelis are guilty of human rights abuses in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories."

I admit that I am at a loss to understand how one looks at the Middle East in general, and at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, and comes away with anything other than a sense that Israel is both the lone reservoir of decency in the region as well as the only rightfully aggrieved party in the conflict. When looking at the situation in the light of historical events, who could not conclude that it was Israel that has been beset by it's neighbors on all sides, and that it is the people of the Jewish state who have given up the most in blood and treasure in a vain attempt to secure a lasting peace.

I am more vexed by the fact that pundits are asking themselves how long it will take to "unwind" the Bush presidency, particularly his initiatives in the Levant. The head-splitting irony is that, nearly thirty years hence, we are still trying to undo "Carterism." Not so much as it pertains to our economy; fiscal conservatism seems to have wrung out the effects of double-digit inflation, unemployment and interest rates. Nor is Carterism readily apparent vis-a-vis the strength of our military, our status as the world's lone superpower or in our national morale more generally.

Over these many years, the lingering stench of Carterism hangs over the Middle East, which is where he wagered most of his - and America's - political capital. The spectacular failures of the Carter regime were 1) his misguided belief that America could find common cause with those who sought her destruction, and 2) his failure to confront radical Islam when it was patently evident that coexistence was not an option. (Indeed, Jimmy Carter didn't just fail to confront radical Islam; it could be said that he facilitated and cheered on the Islamists in their ascendancy in Iran, as noted by Matthias Kuntzel at

So it is that each time an IED rips through the bodies of American servicemen in Iraq - or worse yet, when the blood of innocents is shed by Islamic terrorists (as has happened nearly 7,000 times since 9/11) - we taste the bitter fruit of the Carter Doctrine, which is distinguishable from "blame America first" pacifism only in it's calls for interminable negotiations prior to American capitulation and withdrawal from the pursuit of our foreign policy interests. I sense that Mr. Carter is himself painfully aware of his true legacy. Hence his obsession with receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, his extensive rewrites of history (23 books and counting) and his various efforts to burnish his "good guy" status (i.e.: building houses with Habitat for Humanity and overseeing elections in various parts of the world.)

So even as Democrats have wrested control of the House of Representatives and (at least for now) the Senate, and appear well-positioned to gain the White House in 2008, Jimmy Carter is still seething. He is angry at Israel for having such a stubborn spirit of self-preservation. He is angry at AIPAC for championing Israel's cause in the U.S. and elsewhere. But most of all, he is angry at all of us for having such long memories.

No comments: