Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tribute to Jimmy Carter -- Energy and Human Rights

Two of the major initiatives of Jimmy Carter's presidency focused on Human Rights and Energy. He was right both times, but the nation was too short sighted to recognize his wisdom and follow through on his initiatives;


We should have emphasized energy conservation, a win-win proposition. We should now be world leaders in renewable energy technology. I am glad that we have developed fracking technology and are beginning to exploit oil and gas reserves that were not previously available, and I wish that the western Europeans were also exploiting their oil and gas reserves available through fracking. And I wish we had continued a vigorous program of research and development to develop safe nuclear reactors. I think the long run focus of the world might require fusion energy, and I hope that that technology is high on the list of priorities -- it will be a big step, but it may be a necessary one.

If we and western Europe were more energy self sufficient, think of how the foreign policy problems with Russia, the Gulf States, and Venezuela would be simplified. Think how much better our economies and lives would be.

Human Rights

I realize that American attitudes towards human rights are not universally shared, but we have some fundamental values in the area. At the least we can speak out for human rights, and we can work at home to guarantee human rights for all Americans.

Carter maintained that human rights should be important in U.S. foreign policy decision making. I worked in the first year of his administration to try to define American policy to promote health and fight hunger as part of our foreign policy -- and I am proud of having had that opportunity.

He maintained that undemocratic, coercive governments should be challenged on human rights grounds, even if they were otherwise important to the United States. American policy has been less likely to support dictators, oligarchs and kings since, and that is to the good.

Carter is not putting his efforts to the rights of girls and women. He points to the abortions of female fetuses, to the killing of female infants. These are scandalous per se, but are also likely to cause serious social problems in societies with few females.

He points to the sex industry and the involuntary servitude imposed on female sex workers worldwide, including in the United States.

We also know that in many countries, half of the human resources are essentially discarded. This is wrong per se, but all the people suffer from homes that function less well than they might, as does the economy and political institutions.

Jimmy Carter is acknowledged as having achieved greatness as a former president, but I think his stature as a president will improve as historians of the future put his accomplishments into the proper perspective.

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