I have always rather liked Jimmy Carter, who was President of the United States when I first went to Blacksburg from Cambridge in the summer of 1980. It astonished me, perhaps because I was naiive, to find the depth of animosity against him among my American colleagues. For example, I remember the late Wilson Schmidt (in one of several kindly gestures towards me until his untimely death) taking me to my first game of College Football — and there singing the Star Spangled Banner with the words “except Carter” added after “home of the brave”. Of course it was the time of the Iranian hostage crisis which had then seemed to be a debilitating humiliation.
Jimmy Carter will need a good biographer to assess him properly, whether now or in years to come, and he may not get one; objective historians are simply too scarce, especially perhaps in America. Certainly it was undignified of the Democratic Party not to give him any role whatsoever during the recent Convention appointing Barack Obama.
In the International Herald Tribune of September 11 2008, President Carter has said about the India-USA nuclear deal:
“different interpretations of the same pact can lead only to harsh confrontations if future decisions are made in New Delhi that contravene what has been understood in our country.”
“The agreed text of the “treaty” looks, from a legal standpoint, quite sloppily and hurriedly written ~ almost as if each side has cut and paste its own preferred terms in different places with a nod to the other side…. Through the sloppiness comes scope for different interpretations. The Americans have said: try not to test, you don’t need to, we don’t test any more, and you have to know that if you do test, this deal is over, in fact it gets reversed. We have said, okay, we won’t test, and if we do test we know it is over with you but that does not mean it is over with others. Given such sloppy diplomacy and treaty-making, the scope for mutual misunderstanding, even war, remains immense long after all the public Indian moneys have found their way into private pockets worldwide. Will a future President Jeb Bush or Chelsea Clinton send F-22 bombers to bomb India’s nuclear facilities because India has carried out a test yet declined to return American equipment? Riding a tiger is not something generally to be recommended.”
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