Booby prize

Idiocy of the week: Jimmy Carter, Nobel laureate, defender of dictators.

By Andrew Sullivan
Published December 13, 2002 11:25PM (EST)

It was buried in the coverage of Jimmy Carter's Nobel address, but it was unmistakable in the text. Carter took a swipe at his successor, Ronald Reagan, and his handling of the end of the Cold War.

"Twelve years ago," Carter told his hosts, "President Mikhail Gorbachev received your recognition for his preeminent role in ending the Cold War that had lasted 50 years." Preeminent? That means, according to the dictionary, "superior to or notable above all others; outstanding." And Reagan's role not only in precipitating the Soviet collapse, but in making the emergence of Gorbachev possible? No mention.

And Yeltsin? The man who finally ended the Soviet tyranny by outflanking the old guard's coup attempt? No mention. Carter has long despised the true architect of Russia's emergence from communist oppression.

Once again, Carter reminds us that the people he really likes in this world are unelected dictators -- from Castro to Saddam to the North Koreans to Gorbachev. And although Carter made an obligatory reference to Saddam's need to disarm, he also threw Saddam a valentine: "We must also strive to correct the injustice of economic sanctions that seek to penalize abusive leaders but all too often inflict punishment on those who are already suffering from the abuse." Now who could he be thinking of?

What's Carter's agenda? Let the U.N. pretend that they can adequately remove all weapons of mass destruction from Iraq? Meanwhile, it will lift the sanctions and give Saddam a new lease on life, providing him with vastly more wealth to achieve his goal of regional domination and a nuclear capability. Hey, Carter was the critical figure in enabling the North Koreans to go nuclear. Why not help Saddam as well?

Is there a vicious dictator in the world he doesn't want to help?

Andrew Sullivan

Salon columnist Andrew Sullivan's commentary appears daily on his own Web site.

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