Sunday, January 28, 2007


Kenneth Stein has written an article about his leaving the Carter Center. Suffice it to say that it’s devastating to Carter.

While Carter says that he wrote the book to educate and provoke debate, the narrative aims its attack toward Israel, Israeli politicians, and Israel’s supporters. It contains egregious errors of both commission and omission. To suit his desired ends, he manipulates information, redefines facts, and exaggerates conclusions.

The question I’d love asking Jimmy Carter is this: How can you pretend that the goal of your book is to “educate and provoke debate” when it’s so factually inaccurate and biased?

I ask you to think back to your favorite teachers. Didn’t these teachers have their facts straight and their logic seamless and compelling? Where is the compelling logic in Carter’s book? How many facts have been pointed out in the media alone? It’s enough to bury what little is left of Carter’s credibility.

Carter’s preferred method in writing the book was to lay a brief and somewhat selective historical foundation for each chapter and emphasize the contemporary. I sought to anchor each chapter more deeply in history and political culture. He had little patience for precedent or laborious recapitulation of history. Too often it interfered with his desire to find action-oriented solutions, which befit his training as an engineer. For Carter, history and ideology bestowed unwanted moorings and unnecessary rigidities; they shackled the pragmatism and flexibility of the would-be negotiator.

When Stein says that Carter thought that “history and ideology bestowed unwanted moorings and unnecessary rigidities”, what he’s really saying is that historical truths proved cumbersome to Carter because he was already then living in a fantasy world devoid of real truth. Carter is nothing if not divorced from reality and indifferent to historical truth.

The Roots of Carter’s Anger

Carter believes the conflict’s resolution to be simple: After the Israeli government agrees in principle to withdraw fully from the West Bank, a dedicated negotiator like himself can usher in an independent, peaceful Palestinian state. That this has not happened is, in Carter’s view, primarily due to the legacy of late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, not the fault of poor Palestinian decision-making or the Palestinian embrace of terrorism.

This is where verifiable facts get in President Carter’s way. That’s why he simply ignores the facts.

Carter believes that if the U.S. government reduces or stops its support for Israel, then the Jewish state will be weakened and become more malleable in negotiations. His underlying logic is based upon an imperial rationality that assumes Washington to have the answer to myriad issues besetting Middle Eastern societies. This plays into the notion in Arab societies that the cause of their problems lies with Western powers and other outsiders.

That’s about as wrong-headed of thinking as it gets. First of all, that’s awful policy. It’s awful policy because it’s based on the U.S. favoring a terrorist nation over a full-fledged democracy who’s biggest desire is to simply live in peace while raising their families. Arab nations have been used a myriad of excuses for the ineptitude of their governmental institutions. These institutions are inept because the terrorists aren’t interested in a government that provides for their people. These terrorist governments are only interested in wiping Israel off the face of the earth.

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