JIMMY CARTER’S FOREIGN POLICY
DIRECTIONS: READ THE INFORMATION GIVEN ON CARTER AND DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT HIS FOREIGN POLICY WAS BEST FOR AMERICA?
CARTER CHANGES COURSE
Early in his presidency, Jimmy Carter proclaimed that as much as possible, American foreign policy would be guided by a concern for human rights. Carter hoped to make his foreign policy into a tool to end acts of political repression such as torture, murder, and imprisonment without trial. This policy direction helped reaffirm the position of the United States as a nation of freedom and justice. However, it undercut the goal of better relations with the Soviet Union.
Relations with the Soviet Union Cool
At first, Carter continued Nixon’s and Ford’s policies toward the Soviet Union. He worked to achieve détente. He continued efforts at arms control, meeting with Leonid Brezhnev in June 1979 and signing the SALT II treaty (pledged to limit nuclear arms production).
However, relations between the two superpowers soon took a decidedly frosty turn. The SALT II treaty was bitterly debated in the United States Senate, where its opponents argues that it put the national security of the United States in jeopardy. Then, in December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded the neighboring country of Afghanistan to prop up a tottering communist government. Carter responded by withdrawing the SALT II treaty from Senate consideration and by imposing sanctions, or penalties, on the Soviets. The sanctions included a US boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games held in Moscow as well as a suspension of grain dales to the Soviet Union.
Carter Supports Human Rights in the Developing World
Since the end of World War II, American Presidents have tended to see the developing world- the poor nations of Asia, Africa. And Latin America- as another stage for the Cold War. Carter broke with that approach and insisted that foreign policy toward the developing world should revolve around the expansion of human rights. Carter believed that US relations with foreign countries should be determined by how a country treated its citizens
Carter’s emphasis on human rights led him to alter the US relationship with a number of dictators. In Nicaragua, the Somoza family had ruled the country with an iron grip since the mid-1930s, most of the time with the support of the United States. In 1978, a leftist group known as the Sandinistas began a rebellion against the country’s ruler, General Anastasio Somoza. His brutal response to the rebellion helped convince Carter ti withdraw US support. Without US aid, General Somoza had to flee Nicaragua, and the Sandinistas came to power.
Carter’s Policies Get Mixed Results in Latin America
The Carter Administration briefly sought to improve relations with Cuba, ruled by communist Fidel Castro since 1959. However, US-Cuban relations soured in 1980 when Castro announced that any Cuban could leave the island from the port of Mariel for the United States. However, Castro insisted that any boats headed to the US would also have to take criminals from the island’s prisons. Because of this condition, the Mariel boatlift developed a bad reputation in the eyes of many Americans. Fewer than 20 percent of the people transported had spent time in prison, and many of those were political prisoners. Still, Americans were repelled by Castro’s lack of concern for the welfare of the migrants and by the idea that he would send criminals to the United States.
Carter’s most controversial foreign policy move involved his decision to return the Panama Canal Zone back to Panama. You will recall the Panama had given the US control of a wide strip of land across the middle of the country in 1903 that later became the site of the Panama Canal. In 1977, Carter negotiated a set of treaties to return the Canal Zone back to Panama by 1999. Many Americans worries that the loss of control over the canal would threaten American shipping and security. Nonetheless, the United States Senate narrowly ratified the treaties in 1978, and all control of the Canal was ultimately turned over to Panama.
Questions: In what ways did President Carter’s policies differ from those of Ford?
SUCCESS AND SETBACK IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Carter’s greatest achievement in foreign policy came in the region that also saw his greatest setback. He helped negotiate a historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, but he failed to win the release of Americans held hostage by Iranian radicals.
Israel and Egypt Agree to Peace.
Egypt and Israel had been enemies since Israel’s founding in 1948. As recently as 1973, the two nations had fought a bitter war. By 1977, eager to improve relations, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met in Jerusalem to negotiate a peace agreement. To help continue the negotiations, Carter invited the two leaders to Camp David, the presidential retreat. For nearly two weeks, the three leaders carried on the difficult negotiations that produced what is known as the Camp David Accords. These agreements provided the framework for a peace treaty in which Egypt formally recognized the nation of Israel. In return, Israel withdrew its troops from the Sinai Peninsula, which it had occupied since 1967. The preamble to the Accords states:
“After four wars during 30 years despite intensive human efforts, the Middle East, which is the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of three great religions, does not enjoy the blessings of peace… (Irael and Egypt) reciognize that for peace to ensure, it must involve all those who have been most deeply affected by the conflict. They therefore agree that this framework, as appropriate, is intended by them to constitute a basis for prace not only between ERgypt and Israel, but also between Israel and each of its other neighbors…”
-Camp David Accords, September 19, 1978
Iran Seizes American Hostages
Carter hoped that Camp David Accords would usher in a new era of cooperation in the Middle East. Yet events in Iran showed that troubles in the region were far from over. Since the 1950s, the United States had supported the rule of the Shah, or emperor of Iran. In the 1970s, however, opposition to the Shah began to grow within Iran.
The Iranian Revolution which toppled the Shah and brought the Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979, had a strong anti-American component. The United States had supported Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Iran’s Shah, to secure a firm ally against communism in the region. However, the Shah’s rule grew more oppressive after 1953, when the CIA had helped him control a challenge to his power. Resentment over political interference and foreign involvement in Iran’s oil industry boiled over when the deposed Shah entered the US for medical treatment. Facing a rebellion at home and dying of cancer, the Shah fled from Iran in January 1979. Fundamentalists Islamic clerics, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini took power. Carter allowed the Shah to enter the US to seek medical treatment. Enraged Iranian radical students invaded the US Embassy and took 66 American hostages, 52 of whom were held for 444 days. The Khomeini government then took control of both the embassy and the hostages to defy the United States.
• January 1979 Iranian Revolution forced the Shah into exile
• February 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 15 years in exile
• April 1979 Khomeini takes power
• October 1979 The Shah enters the US
• November 1979 Militant students take 66 Americans hostage. Carter halts oil imports and freezes Iranian assets in the US
• Aoril 1980 Carter severs diplomatic relations with Iran and imposes an economic embargo. A Mission to free the hostages ends in disaster
• January 1981 On the day of Reagan’s inauguration, the hostages are released in exchange for $8 billion in frozen assets and a promise to lift trade sanctions against Iran
The hostage crisis consumed the attention of Carter during the last year of his presidency. To many Americans, Carter’s failure to win all of the hostages’ release was evidence of American weakness. As Peter Bourne put it in his biography of Jimmy Carter “Because people felt that Cater had not been tough enough in foreign policy… some bunch of students would seize American diplomatic officials and hold them prisoner and thumb their nose at the United States.”.
The hostage crisis began to change the way Americans viewed the world outside their borders. Nuclear war between the two superpowers was no longer the only threat to the United States. Although the Cold War still concerned Americans, the threats posed by conflicts in the Middle East threated to become the greatest foreign policy challenge.
• What events triggered the seizer of the American hostages in Iran?
• What actions did Carter take to try to get the hostages released?
• How did the seizure of the US embassy by Iranian students affect American’s view of the world?
IRAN HOSTAGE CRISIS
Directions: Use this website to answer the questions on the worksheet http://iranhostagecrisisactivity.weebly.com/
1. Describe the history of relations between the United States and Iran.
2. What led to the Iranian revolution?
3. What did Carter and Khomeini request in their letters?
U.S. stake in Iran Read the first four pages of the document and answer the questions below.
4. According to the National Security Agency report, what was the United States’ greatest stake in Iran? Explain.
5. What did the document have to say about the U.S.S.R.?
6. According to this document, why was the hostage crisis so worrisome to the West?
7. How would the crisis put new stresses on the U.S. economy and the world financial system?
The hostages’ release
8. What led to the release of the remaining hostages? Describe.
(After the video)
9. How do you observe Carter's dedication to human rights within his decision-making process?
10. Do you agree with Carter's decision on how best to handle the situation?
11. What were the lasting effects of the hostage situation ?
12. How can you see these effects today?
Task: Find two political cartoon on the Iranian Hostage Crisis and describe them completely
Task: Which countries was Carter involved with? Describe US interaction with each country
Task: Write a paragraph that describes Carter’s foreign policy as either a success or failure with support