U.S. President Jimmy Carter Pros and Cons of Presidency

About the U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a list of pros and cons in the history of his presidency.

39th President

JAMES EARL CARTER, JR.

PRESIDENCY

His Record as President:

PRO

Carter's emphasis on human rights has once again made America a force for good in the world. His call for basic freedoms and simple justice has given hope to Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe and blacks in South Africa.

CON

The human rights issue is a double-edged sword that the Carter administration uses to punish only countries of political inconsequence to the U.S., while nations such as Iran, the Philippines, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia receive a light slap on the wrist for repressive domestic policies. For example, despite the flagrant civil rights violations in Iran, including mass executions of political opponents of the Shah, Carter has praised that country as "strong, stable, and progressive." In the 1977-1978 fiscal year alone, he okayed the sale of nearly $3 billion in arms to the Shah. Such actions place human rights--and lives--at the mercy of political expedience.

PRO

Restoring the Panama Canal to the Panamanians by the turn of the next century was a magnanimous gesture which will close the books on America's "big stick" diplomacy and will enhance our prestige among Latin American natons. To have dug in our heels might eventually have led to sending in troops to defend the canal against increasingly hostile Panamanians. Besides, the treaty granting the U.S. the right to build and own the canal was on shaky legal ground, and the Canal Zone was never intended to be American soil in perpetuity.

CON

Uncle "Sucker" Sam is once again giving in to a tinhorn dictator without regard for what is in America's best interest. There is no such thing as a Panama Canal; it's the American Canal. We built it, we paid for it, and we ought to keep it.

PRO

Carter's pardon of draft dodgers healed old wounds caused by the Vietnam War. These people, while in their teens, had correctly perceived the Vietnam War to be wrong and fled the country rather than kill a far-off enemy. Why should they be punished when the perpetrators of the war--LBJ, the Pentagon, et al.--have gone unpunished?

CON

Carter's pardon satisfied almost no one. Families who had lost a loved one considered it a personal insult, and a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars summed up the feelings of many veterans when he stated that Carter's pardon constituted, "one of the saddest days in the history of our country, even surpassing the Watergate days." On the other side of the fence, the American Civil Liberties Union and other proamnesty organizations objected to the pardon because it did nothing to ease the situation of the nearly 100,000 deserters, a group composed disproportionately of minorities and the poor. The general dissatisfaction with Carter's action was mirrored in a surprisingly low response to the program by draft evaders and veterans eligible for an upgrade in their military discharges.

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