If countries were orphans and former presidents could adopt them, Jimmy Carter would have a foster home full of dysfunctional dictatorial states running amok under his care on a peach tree orchard in Georgia, all while he turns a blind eye to their terrifying antics.
His latest foray into the depths of North Korea last week is yet another striking example of his flagrant ignorance of the world we live in, as The Heritage Foundation’s Bruce Klingner describes in his latest paper:
During his self-appointed mission to North Korea this week, former President Jimmy Carter engaged in yet another sanctimonious effort to impose his vision onto U.S. policy. His trip was the latest iteration of a predictable pattern of coddling dictators and blaming the shortcomings of those regimes on the United States and its allies.
Carter’s journeys around the world have led him to Cuba (where he met with dictator Fidel Castro), Syria (where he met with terrorist organization Hamas) , and Venezuela (where he certified that anti-American socialist Hugo Chavez defeated a recall vote in 2004). Just like Carter ignored the realities of those leaders and regimes, he overlooked the misdeeds of the North Korean regime and the human rights abuses there. Writer Christopher Hitchens offers an intensely illuminating glimpse into what life is like under the oppressive dictatorship:
Here are the two most shattering facts about North Korea. First, when viewed by satellite photography at night, it is an area of unrelieved darkness. Barely a scintilla of light is visible even in the capital city. (See this famous photograph.) Second, a North Korean is on average six inches shorter than a South Korean. You may care to imagine how much surplus value has been wrung out of such a slave, and for how long, in order to feed and sustain the militarized crime family that completely owns both the country and its people.
Those facts, though, didn’t seem to register on Carter’s radar. Klingner breaks down some of the lowlights from the former president’s North Korean adventure and views on the country, which, in short, called for removing sanctions and resuming dialogue with Pyongyang, without any criticism of North Korea’s leadership:
- Expressed hope to facilitate a peace treaty between the United States and North Korea, ignoring the Pyongyang’s role in escalating tensions — and U.S. and South Korean preconditions for talks.
- Has strongly criticized the Obama Administration’s two-track policy of conditional engagement and sanctions punishing North Korea for repeatedly violating U.N. resolutions, but downplays North Korea’s belligerency
- Blames North Korea’s current conditions on international sanctions and diplomatic isolation rather than on the regime’s destructive economic policies, high military budget, and provocative behavior.
- Did not mention any requirement for Pyongyang to implement economic reform, accept vigorous monitoring standards to ensure food aid is not diverted to the military, or comply with U.N. resolutions.
- Offered no criticism of North Korea’s atrocious human rights violations or its repeated violations of U.N. proliferation resolutions.
Klingner offers a series of recommendations for how to deal with North Korea as it really is, not as Carter would like to re-imagine it. That includes: encouraging UN states to fully implement UN resolution requirements; maintaining punitive sanctions until North Korea complies with international law and U.N. resolutions; challenging it on human rights violations; and carefully considering the conditions under which aid will be provided to North Korea’s people.
As for how to deal with Carter, Klingner says it’s not necessary for the United States to publicly condemn his assertions, but the North Korean threat must be taken seriously:
Former President Carter apparently resides in a parallel Orwellian universe where evil is good, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. He habitually adopts a value-neutral, even-handed treatment of all countries, ignoring the reality that some are belligerents and others are victims. Carter’s approach threatens to undermine official U.S. policy toward North Korea. With a regime as unstable and unpredictable as Pyongyang, any misstep could have disastrous consequences.