Jimmy Carter

Carter Criticizes Obama's Slow ISIS Response


White House

Former President Jimmy Carter is critical of current President Barack Obama's approach to dealing with the Islamic State (ISIS). Although long known as a promoter of peace, Carter believes America should've been more hawkish and quicker to deal with the organization overrunning parts of Syria and Iraq.

Carter told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic state build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria. Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn't object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned. …

You have to have somebody on the ground to direct our missiles and to be sure you have the right target. Then you have to have somebody to move in and be willing to fight ISIS after the strikes.

He added that Obama's foreign policy "changes from time to time. I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president." Indeed, Leon Panetta just ripped into Obama.

There's a lot of legitimate criticism for the hapless Obama, who has been skipping many intelligence briefings, but Carter's statements are a curious change in position for a man at 90 who prides his own presidency on "never dropp[ing] a bomb" and "never fir[ing] a bullet." He's criticized Bush's wars, and less than a year ago, when the Obama administration wanted to bomb Syria's Assad regime, Carter penned an op-ed titled "Time to Be Bold and Make Peace in Syria."

Perhaps the interviewer omitted some significant portions of the responses, because Carter's coulda-woulda-shoulda statements are of limited value without more in-depth explanations of how he thinks Obama might have intervened more effectively. Carter has previously been cautious about the legality of an American military intervention intervention, but his latest words fail to illuminate how the current president, who is already using dubious legal justifications, could have mobilized legitimately and more rapidly within the bounds of his authority.

The Carter Center's policy suggestions on Syria are all peaceful political resolutions, with no mention of either U.S. military engagement or the Islamic State. The center doesn't have anything up-to-date on Iraq.

This isn't the first time Carter has pushed for action. Last month he announced, "I think we need to bomb ISIS," but didn't hint that it was already overdue. At the time he also seemed to suggest that America's allies, as opposed to America itself, should bring the ground troops. Soon after he pivoted slightly and said a bombing campaign would cost too many civilian lives and that American U.S. forces should be on the ground. 

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  1. See, if we just bombed Syria when we wanted to, everything would be just fine.

    MOAR BOMBZ is always the solution!

    1. The Eat Your Body Weight In Pasta Every Day Diet.

      1. What could possibly go wrong?

  2. the old dude sounds a little bloodthirsty to me.

  3. Dissed by Jimmy Carter? That’s like Lindsay Lohan thinking you do too much coke.

    1. you do too much coke.

      Wait, that’s a thing?

    2. Or Micheal Cera saying you just aren’t masculine enough. Talk about kicking a guy when he is down.

      1. Why would I care what a woman things about my masculinity?

        1. Because you want to have sex with her?

          1. As if I need her opinion to sex her!

    3. One of the better parts of the Kieth Richards biography are when he talks about how irresponsible John Belushi and and his ex wife Anita Pallenberg were. It is amazing to think how big of irresponsible drug addicts those two must of been to get Keith Richards to think they were out of hand.

      1. Sure, but Richards is still alive and Belushi ain’t.

    4. “You’re not wrong, Jimmy. You’re just an asshole.”

  4. Wait. Wasn’t Carter the one who said, repeatedly, that criticism of Obama was grounded in racism? Petard hoisted?

    1. Hah, Carter was racist for being White long before he was racist for criticizing Obama.

      1. White? Check. Southern? Check. Derives money from large agricultural operation? Check. anon, you’re right!

        1. History’s Greatest Monster? Check.

          1. Jimmy Carter: Chickenhawk, Neocon, Wardog!

  5. Sumthing, sumthing about a racist pot and kettle.

  6. “Jimmy Carter is critical of current President Barack Obama’s approach to dealing with the Islamic State (ISIS). Although long known as a promoter of peace, Carter believes America should’ve been more hawkish”

    Foreign Policy Failure* Carter Says: “You embarrass even me

    [*some argue that Camp David Accords were a ‘success’. Hint: when all the people you ‘brought to the table’ to ‘do the deal’ have been murdered *because* of that Deal? yeah, not so much. Not to mention that it obligated us to spend a few billion a year to both Israel and Egypt to ‘guarantee the peace’, and… well, it hasn’t been the best investment.

    *Returning the Canal to the Panamanians… Generous gesture! but… well, that didn’t last long.

    *Human Rights work? it became an annual farce where we would browbeat our adversaries for abuses while wallpapering over the same by our allies. Good show.]

    *SALT II? at best helped keep the Soviets on Ice until they collapsed under their own incompetence.]

    When you’ve lost Carter, you have no one.

    1. When you’ve lost Carter, you have no one.

      Begs the question: If you’ve lost Carter, did you really have anyone to begin with?

    2. The Camp Davis accords are a good example of the bullshit “talk it out” myth the media and sadly our foreign policy establishment buys into. The myth of Camp David is that Sadat and Begin and Carter all got together and because they say that each of them loved their children decided that they had to make peace. It is held out as an example of the miraculous power of negotiations.

      The truth is of course that is all complete bullshit. The Egyptians and Israelis had already made peace before the meetings ever happened. The problem was they needed a third party to pay for putting a peace keeping force in the Sinai so both sides didn’t feel the other had a knife to their throat. So they went to Camp David not to make peace but to get Carter and the US to fund that peace.

      The lesson of Camp David is that negotiations at the national level only work to finalize agreements that have already been reached. They don’t work to magically create agreements where none already exist.

      1. Good point, John. I’d add that the only thing that actually guarantees peace is (relatively) free trade.

        Nobody bombs the people they buy cheap widgets from.

        1. Trade didn’t stop World War I. Sometimes people get emotional and angry and paranoid and the power of a cheap widget doesn’t’ stop them from going to war.

          1. I’d argue that the late 1800’s and early 1900’s were filled with protectionist policies that were the root cause for the war.

            1. I think the causes of the war were two fold. First, it was the totally false idea that having colonies is what made Europe rich. Colonies were the luxury being rich afforded Europe. Europe got rich because their native populations were productive. But the idea that colonies were necessary for prosperity make Germany aggressive and paranoid. Even though they were becoming the richest country in Europe, Germany somehow convinced itself it needed colonies to succeed. Primarily because of this and partially because the Prussian Aristocracy’s fear and loathing of western democracy, Germany convinced itself that is was surrounded by enemies such that if it didn’t act soon it would become militarily inferior to France and Russia and France would be able to get revenge for the Franco Prussian war. The war happened more than anything because the Germans convinced themselves that war was inevitable and that if it didn’t happen then Germany would be doomed to defeat.

              Ironically, the UK got involved because of their own paranoia about Germany. Ultimately England didn’t recognize that after Napoleon France was finished as a world power and there was no way France was ever going to create the balance of power on the continent England had depended on for the last 200 years. England should have resigned itself to a German dominated continent and stayed out of it. England would still likely be a super power today if they had.

              1. I think both these “causes” from John and anon overlook the basic fact that pre- and proto-industrial-revolution Europe was still dominated by relatively few elite political leaders. Like today’s chrony capitalism, if you were well connected (one of the elite), the power of the state could keep you elite, and broaden your power.

                Colonialism worked because the Elite could bring the entire force of their country to bare against indigenous populations and essentially steal their resources to feed their productive populations. But it wasn’t Germany’s colonial ambitions that started WWI, it was their Empire ambitions. The elite classes there wanted a new Holy Roman Empire.

                From the introduction of the Flintlock (or even arguably, the rise of the Welsh longbowman) through WWII, the trend was slowly removing power over the state from the elite classes and bringing it down to the masses.

                1. To follow up, if you look at European wars throughout history, you find that during protracted wars, there is an attrition of war material, but there is also an attrition of the elite classes. This was most evident in the 100 Years War, where in a single battle (the Battle of Agincourt) most of French Aristocracy was killed, and mostly by professional soldiers, not aristocracy. At the end of this war, it was simply impossible for the elite to hold their power with feudal strongmen, and so new classes of elite were enrolled to secure power.

                  WWI and WWII further expanded on this attrition of political centralization. In order to wage these wars, the countries had to basically ask more and more of the common classes and therefore give them more political power in return. The movie Gallipoli is a great examination of how that power change was happening. In that movie, a bunch of Australians go off to be cannon fodder for, essentially, English upper class and the cost was unbearable. By the end of WWII, England couldn’t hold its colonies because the lesser classes had enough power that they could say FUCK YOU to any Aristocrat who wanted cheap resources bought with the blood of Plebeians.

                  1. The other condition to war is that you think you can win and be better off after a good fight than before. After all, it is politics by other means. That is why Hitler used war to gain living space for the Aryan race, and the Japs bombed pearl harbor to secure access for raw materials. Did not work out as they planned, but that was the logic. ISIS thinks it can establish a Caliphate, destroy the heresy that is Shiite Islam, and then take out the rest of the infidels to create a global caliphate, which will be less than friendly to Libertarian ideals. As it gets more powerful, it will just get hungrier, and there is no logical reason to believe it will be satisfied with attacks on fellow muslims. No sane westerner wants a war in the Mideast, but a smaller war is better than a bigger war, and Jimmy Carter has a point here. Too bad he did not think that far ahead when it came to bringing the Ayatollah back ot Iran.

                    1. So we must fight ISIS now while it’s small rather than later when it gets big?

                      The lesson of all empires is that big — bureaucracy — sluggish and clumsy. ISIS isn’t popular enough to get big, and if it changes its founding principles to get big, it won’t be the same threat.

                      There is no need to fight ISIS now or ever. If the Muslim countries in the area want to waste their resources, that’s their business. I personally see no difference between ISIS, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and most of the others.

      2. Yes. Egypt had essentially gotten its ass handed to it in all its attempts at fighting Egypt. They had a couple close calls, but during those first years, Israel kept coming up on top. Sadat was in a precarious position because the nationalism of his country required him to either defeat Israel (which he couldn’t manage), be eternally fighting them, or get some sort of face saving peace.

        The moral there is that Egypt wouldn’t have been at the bargaining table if Israel (and her allies) hadn’t made those first two options untenable. The sad after fact is that his nation still didn’t support plan c, and he was killed for taking it.

        1. er, egypt had gotten its ass handed in all attempts at fighting Israel.

  7. A sign that the Democrat machine is throwing Obama off the bus, clearing the air for Hillary ’16?

  8. “Then you have to have somebody to move in and be willing to fight ISIS after the strikes.”

    And why, Jimmy boy, should that be my bookkeeper’s son from Cleburne, TX instead of some Iraqi whose family is going to be wiped out if ISIS comes to power?

  9. For those of you old enough to have lived through the malaise of the Carter years will recognize how disingenuous Carters remarks are. For a man who commanded a “Boomer”* during the Cold War, he was a total and complete dove when it came to foreign policy. So it’s make perfect sense Carter’s greatest achievement was the Camp David Accords bringing peace between Israel (P.M. Menachem Begin) and Egypt (Pres. Anwar Sadat).

    *A Boomer is a nuclear-powered sub carrying first-strike nuclear weapons.

  10. Carter thinks Obama is acting too slowly?

    Hey Jimmuh–FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY DAYS you sat around twiddling your thumbs and eating peanuts while the Iranian Mullahs had our citizens! Now THAT’S slow.

  11. Notice how strange is that ISIS threatened Europe and the entire World but not Israel which is next to it. This masquerade goes on in this great stage while the future of all people depends precisely on how ISIS, Al Qaeda and 9/11 are intended. A new World apparatus should thoroughly investigate the events of 9/11. There is no need for another US Commission that pretends to investigate and that is why it takes an external Commission. Also a second investigation should be launched against Senator John Mc Cain after it has been revealed that he had met with the founder of ISIS. “Here’s the problem. He [Sen. John McCain] did meet with ISIS, and had his picture taken, and didn’t know it was happening at the time.” ?Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in an interview with the Daily Beast, Sept. 16. This picture is the obvious evidence that the World conspiracy is not a theory. The chief of ISIS is that same Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who spent time in a US prison and in a meeting with Mc Cain before being released in 2009. There is no doubt that the Zionists and their counter terrorist agencies have all the means to enlist and pay well mercenaries of all Countries and Islamic extremists without having to show their face or their wallet.
    A World War has already been planned.


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