As his record shows, when Jimmy Carter says there’s no reason to be afraid of, say, the Muslim Brotherhood, that’s when there’s every reason to be very much afraid.
For those of you not entirely certain about where to stand on a complex, dynamic situation in Egypt, fear no more: Jimmy Carter has waded in to add both clarity and certainty.
“I think that the Muslim Brotherhood is not anything to be afraid of,” Carter told a wide-eyed, admiring university audience in Austin, Texas. The man who presided over the replacement of the Shah with the world’s worst theocratic-terror state confidently predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood “will be subsumed in the overwhelming demonstration of desire for freedom and democracy.”
If you weren’t entirely sure about whether to fear the collapse of Hosni Mubarak, be afraid now — very, very afraid. Jimmy Carter’s record on these things does not exactly inspire optimism.
As a service to my fellow Americans, I thought I’d offer this quick review of Carter’s appraisal of previous regimes, dictators, and murderers, from the Soviet Union to the Middle East to the Far East. Let’s start with the Evil Empire:
In the immediate days after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in late December 1979, President Carter responded with shock and a sense of deep, palpable betrayal. After all, he and Leonid Brezhnev, just six months earlier, at the Vienna Summit, had literally hugged and kissed. Why would the Soviets do this?
Carter was hurt, betrayed by that kiss.
“My opinion of the Russians has changed most dramatically in the last week,” he told a speechless Frank Reynolds of ABC News. “[T]his action of the Soviets has made a more dramatic change in my own opinion of what the Soviets’ ultimate goals are than anything they’ve done in the previous time I’ve been in office.”
The Democratic president had long lamented America’s “inordinate fear of communism,” from which he had hoped to unshackle the nation. And now, just like that, his communist friends were annihilating Afghanistan.
Carter had called them just that, “friends,” assuring Americans the first week of his presidency that the Soviets “seem to be our friends.” It was a theme he carried throughout his presidency, telling reporters during a June 26, 1978 press conference, “We want to be friends with the Soviets.”
At the same time, Jimmy Carter had tried to warn Americans about their smugness, about unwarranted feelings of American exceptionalism, especially compared to the Soviet Union. “We’ve got our own problems in this country,” Carter lectured, especially compared to the USSR.
What were these problems? Where, for example, were Americans inferior to the Soviets? Carter had a reliable source: the Soviet ambassador. Carter called attention to what Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin instructed him: “He said to me, ‘At least in the Soviet Union, our women have equal rights.’”
Ah, yes. No doubt, the Soviets trumped us there.
Of course, one place where women were about to lose rights was Iran, which fell to the Ayatollah and his mullahs at almost the exact time the Red Army rifled through Afghanistan.
This, too, for Carter, was completely unexpected. On December 31, 1977, he had stood aside the Shah and given a toast: “Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability.”
One year later, that island of stability erupted into a volcano, one named the Ayatollah Khomeini. A reporter asked Carter if the Shah would survive. “I don’t know,” said the president. “I hope so.”