Readers respond to "Idiocy of the Week: Jimmy Carter, Nobel Laureate, Defender of Dictators" by Andrew Sullivan.

By Salon Staff
Published December 14, 2002 9:00AM (EST)

[Read "Idiocy of the Week: Jimmy Carter, Nobel Laureate, Defender of Dictators" by Andrew Sullivan.]

I never thought I would see Andrew Sullivan and Tariq Ali of the U.K. Guardian agree on something.

However, they both miss the point. President Carter received his Nobel Prize for his actions since his presidency. Habitat for Humanity alone should deserve the prize.

As for the article, why is Mr. Sullivan diverting attention from the substance of Mr. Carter's speech? This is like upgrading the terrorist alerts from yellow to orange every time Bush's ratings drop a bit.

Reagan never won the Nobel; Gorbachev did. At a meeting of Nobel laureates, does Carter really need to mention others who had not?

Another example: "We must also strive to correct the injustice of economic sanctions that seek to penalize abusive leaders [i.e. Saddam] but all too often inflict punishment on those who are already suffering from the abuse [i.e. Iraqi Citizens]."

How is that a valentine to Saddam? This is exactly what the insincere leaders of the current administration say: "We are doing this to free the Iraqi people." And does he not agree that sanctions do punish the leaders and not the people? I don't care who you blame but there is no arguing that 500,000 Iraqi children have died since the sanctions were imposed.

Yeah, Carter's work with Korea didn't work out as everyone had hoped. But hey, Reagan was a critical figure in enabling the Iraqis to go biological. Why not help Saddam as well? But, hey, Reagan was a critical figure in enabling the Taliban. Why not help Saddam as well? But, hey ...

-- Hani Akhras

So you think the only dictators Carter coddled were "lefties?" How about Suharto, Pinochet, Pahlavi, Duvalier ... Let's be fair. He no more deserves the Peace Prize than Kissinger.

-- Dick Paddock

I have to say that I admire Sullivan's chutzpah in deciding to declare a deserving Nobel Peace Prize winner this week's "idiot," even if his rant seems more spat out than thought out this time around.

Stating that Carter is "a critical figure in enabling the North Koreans to go nuclear" is open to easy rebuttal, considering that the reason we've had to place U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq is because Sullivan's hero Ronald Reagan and his administration helped put those weapons there in the first place. Carter made plenty of mistakes during his administration, no doubt, as do all presidents -- I consider the rest of his life's work adequate atonement. What have Reagan, et al., done to make this world a better place since the missteps of their administration?

As for Sullivan's near-hysterical fears that correcting the economic sanctions will make Saddam an even greater menace, one can only point out that nothing has been gained by their continued enforcement except for the dismal poverty and starvation of ordinary Iraqi citizens. If sanctions had worked against their intended target -- and I'm only assuming it was Saddam -- then we wouldn't be considering an invasion now. Islamic extremists reap their soldiers from the desperate and destitute peoples of the Arab nations; how does it help fight the war on terrorism to give al-Qaida a limitless supply of willing recruits?

-- Bilal Dardai

Well, at least the award isn't from the Georgia wing of the KKK for outstanding lifetime achievement. It seems that's what prominent Republicans are pushing for.

It seems odd that Republican mouthpieces still keep spinning despite recently crying about the Wellstone funeral. Enough already -- stop the pandering and talk about real issues.

These Republican talking heads have no shame.

-- Paul Hartlipp

Regarding Andrew Sullivan's recent column entry handing Jimmy Carter the "Idiocy of the Week" award, all arguments presented can be easily refuted.

Sullivan says Carter heaps too much praise on Gorbachev and ignores Reagan's role in the Soviet collapse. Reagan was not awarded the Nobel Prize; Carter was citing those who had been honored with the award in the past. Reagan isn't in that category. So why would he mention him? It has nothing to do with whether or not Carter "despises the true architect of Russia's emergence from communist oppression."

The truly idiotic claim that Carter favors Saddam by suggesting that the U.N. lift sanctions on Iraq ignores the generally accepted notion that sanctions do nothing to harm or suppress the dictator, but directly affect the millions of civilians under his power. Lifting the sanctions may or may not give Saddam "vastly more wealth", but it must be said that he is already vastly wealthy. He rebuilt the Tower of Babel for chrissakes. His palaces are decked out, gold-lined, and diamond-studded. And yet we've still contained him.

Sullivan's attack is obviously personal. Try harder, Andrew.

-- Jacob Vaughan

So, Salon's token conservative has decided to assassinate the character of a Nobel laureate, simply because he's not in lockstep with the ideology of the day. Is this your idea of equal time? I expect better than this. When I want screaming, shallow, partisan rhetoric, I'll turn on a cable news channel.

-- Keith Russell

Salon should spend some money to develop software that can take the latest conservatively correct viewpoints and insert them into a template and spit out a perfectly honed right-wing diatribe. This, after all, is all that Andrew Sullivan is good for. We have the technology to replace him and save Salon a lot of money.

-- Larry Newgent

I don't think it takes a rocket scientists to realize that Carter cares about the Iraqi people. Are you trying to suggest that he wants money put in Saddam's pocket?

I think he also cares about the people of Cuba. Does that make him an idiot?

Poverty and ignorance tend to be conditions in which tyranny thrives. If leaders paid more attention to the people of the world, they might find that they have fewer tyrants to deal with. Carter is too often an idealist and he certainly has numerous flaws as a leader. But his concern over the human condition is not one of them.

-- Jack Walther

Salon Staff

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