Jimmy Carter knocks Hillary Clinton-President Obama foreign policy
April 10th, 2014
12:29 PM ET
8 years ago

Jimmy Carter knocks Hillary Clinton-President Obama foreign policy

(CNN) - Former President Jimmy Carter took a jab at President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over their handling of Middle East peace negotiations in an interview published Thursday.

Heralding the nation's current top diplomat, John Kerry, the former Democratic President told TIME Magazine he has "great admiration" for Kerry and the two stay in touch frequently through email.

"He has had a very difficult time operating pretty much on his own," Carter said about Kerry's role in the Mideast peace process. "I know from experience that the best way to have the United States be a mediator is for the president himself to be deeply involved."

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But in praising Kerry, Carter went on to argue that Clinton – Kerry's predecessor – failed to play a major role in the peace-making process.

"In this occasion, when Secretary Clinton was Secretary of State, she took very little action to bring about peace. It was only John Kerry's coming into office that reinitiated all these very important and crucial issues," Carter said.

TIME noted that the interview was edited for length.

Carter has been known to offer candid assessments of both Republican and Democratic presidents and their administrations, including former President Bill Clinton. Throughout much of Clinton's presidency, Carter was a Democratic agitator. He embarked on his own foreign policy projects, at times at direct odds with the White House.

The idea that Clinton failed to make big achievements during her four years at the State Department is an argument Republicans have latched onto as they prepare for a possible 2016 presidential run by the former first lady and former senator.

"Whether it was acting with the next political campaign in mind or merely following a weak Obama-Hillary foreign policy, Hillary Clinton has very little to show for her four years in the State Department," said Kirsten Kukowski, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

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Since leaving the State Department in 2013, Clinton has toured the country on the paid speaking circuit and regularly talks about her four years as the nation's top diplomat. In particular, the former first lady frequently highlights her role in major issues involving Iran, Syria and Libya, as well as steps she took to achieve equality for women and children around the world. She made 16 trips to the Middle East and North Africa.

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She's set to release a book in June detailing her time as secretary.

CNN reached out to her spokesman for a response to Carter's comments.

Since succeeding Clinton, Kerry has been active in negotiations for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, visiting the Middle East more than a dozen times since taking office last year.

He's also been highly involved in a multi-country agreement with Iran to reduce its stockpile of highly enriched uranium and allow inspectors into some of its facilities.

But Kerry hasn't been immune to criticism. At a Senate hearing just this week, Republican members of the Foreign Relations Committee–which he used to chair–criticized Kerry over the Obama administration's Syria and Ukraine policies.

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CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Jimmy Carter • President Obama
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Carl Fraizer

    For all the war-lovers (mostly GOP), I would like to know what an exceptable number of American casualties would be for all the conflicts they would like to see us involved in right now? Syria, Israel-Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Crimea-Ukraine? Forty thousand?, Fifty,100,000 per conflict?
    How many poor people s kids do you want to send off to die while you sit on your fat rear-ends and write about it?

    April 10, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. Guardian of Truth

    "...just laws which uphold human rights are the necessary foundation of peace and security would be denied only by closed minds which interpret peace as the silence of all opposition and security as the assurance of their own power."

    April 10, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Howard

    This from guy who said it was all right for Islamic terrorists to murder Jews.

    April 10, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. DaveinIL

    I rarely agree with Carter on the Middle East. His position is typically too pro-Palestinian and that's why he gives Kerry undeserved credit for his Middle East diplomactic efforts which put more burden on Isreal than on the Palestinians. On the other hand, his criticism of Obama and Clinton has some merit because Carter got his own rude awakening to his foreign policy naivete' when Iran took our embassy staff hostage during his presidency. Being Mr Nice Guy doesn't get you very far on the world stage.

    April 10, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. KD Phoenix

    I guess Carter is forgetting the fact that the voters thought so much of his administration that they voted him out after only one term. He's a fine one to criticize anyone else, given his own wacky ideas.

    April 10, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Bud

    Mr Carter would certainly be an expert on incompetence. He would know it when he sees it.

    April 10, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. DC Johnny

    For any other president, the current foreign policy would be the greatest failure of an administration.

    For this president, it's simply on par with his domestic catastrophes.

    April 10, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Atheistically Yours

    STFU Jimmy Carter! Your "foreign policy" gave us the IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS, and a STILL embarrassing 444 days of their being held! YOU are no longer relevant! Now, go back to being a good ex-President, and go build something for "Habitat for Humanity" or something! You were voted out of office in a landslide over 33 years ago (do you remember, the 1980 election at all?). Quit acting like YOU somehow still matter!

    April 10, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    I wonder if Pres. Carter remembers the uncharismatic, if not hostile, attitude of Netanyanhu towards Barack Obama. Bebe wanted nothing to do with Barack Obama, and ditto for Clinton. Bebe wanted to wait until Obama was made a one-term president. He even took subtle steps to make it happen by speaking negatively and disrespectfully about Obama. Wagging his finger in his face in the Oval Office was the deal breaker.

    April 10, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. still the only one

    And to this day, Jimmy Carter is the only president to secure any kind of peace deal in the middle east.

    April 10, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Gunderson

    What is an exceptable number of casualties.......Exceptable Causalities? None. However Curley, Larry and Moe may disagree.

    April 10, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. still the only one

    @KD Phoenix – yeah – like putting solar panels on the White House. Totally whacky.

    April 10, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Buckeyepilot

    Carl,If it's Liberals like you, all of them would be acceptable. What an ignorant statement.. GOP are war lovers? Sheesh. So what are you doing about it other then sitting on your tail blaming the Dem's failures on the GOP

    Gee Barrack, It must be pretty bad when Jimmy Carter is criticizing you. Our 2 worst presidents in history, both liberal Dems. Just shocking.

    April 10, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. JP

    Carter has spent the last several decades trying to redefine his miserable legacy, especially in foreign policy, from his lackluster administration. Since he can't raise his self-esteem by touting his own 'victories', I guess it only makes sense to focus on the failures in every single (Democrat and Republican) administration since. He was a horrible president, and I guess he is hoping to make himself seem good by comparison. Unfortunately, his rhetoric may actually work on some of those who weren't around for his inept handling of the Iran hostage crisis...Its like getting Dennis Rodman's opinion on international affairs.

    April 10, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. MMC

    As many prominent Democrats have discovered since 1976, Obama and H. Clinton are discovering now.......With friends like Jimmy....

    April 10, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Peter

    Peace has not existed in that region for thousands of years. Why is it up to the US to make it happen? Why is it anyone's fault when it doesn't happen in a matter of a few years? And if Jimmy Carter really made any progress, where is that progress now? Peace in the Middle East has nothing to do with the one's ability to be president. G.W. Bush did nothing to help the US establish peace anywhere, so if anyone is to blame in the recent past, it's his administration's foreign policy. Any president after him not only has to go against thousands of years of history, but they also have to clean up Bush's abhorrent messes.

    April 10, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. bobo

    You know it's Bad for Hillary and Obama when a President who let fifty something hostages be held for over 400 days says THEY are doing a lousy job! lol

    April 10, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. NealR2000

    Carter has Obama down pretty well. Obama does not get directly involved in matters of foreign policy, simply because he really doesn't understand them. Over the years, we have learned that Obama is fantastic at really only one thing ... electioneering. All the other complicated stuff is handled by qualified people.

    April 10, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. 1776usa2016

    Screw you, Carter.

    You let the entire US economy flounder while you were off diddling around in the Middle East.

    And what happened? Sadat got murdered that was all.

    Meanwhile tens of thousands of small business got annihilated under your administration.


    April 10, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. DEAN

    Wow, coming from the guy that is rated as one of the worse presidents in history. Foreign policy, he had none.

    April 10, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Jay in Florida

    Hillary Clinton is useless at ever level

    April 10, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. DH

    Carl Frazier, you got it right.

    How many poor kids do you Repubs want to send off to all the wars you want us to be in while you sit on your fat rear-ends and write about it or scream about it in fox?

    April 10, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. Fiona

    I agree with Carter, wholeheartedly.

    April 10, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Shut up Jimmy!

    April 10, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Ancient Texan

    Sadly, we have no foreign policy. Apology and Appeasement was the initial plan, and since has been a play it by ear response to developments as they occur in this power-keg world.....and decisions always made too late.

    April 11, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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