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. Ancient Texan

    RUDY NYC- Obama has gone out of his way to disrespect Israel since day one...leaving BeBe sitting while he went off to dinner, insisting Israel stop building on their own land, etc. Israel knows that Obama is not watching their back.

    April 11, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Dannyman3131

    It's just amazing to see the left get so personally affected by any criticism of Obama or Clinton for that matter. They have both been complete and absolute failures but that doesn't matter. They just attack whomever questions BO or HC without ever actually stating why the criticism is unfounded. Any of you BO/HC supporters, please tell us what they have accomplished?

    April 11, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. Josh

    I thought "W" was the worst president in history...then along came Barry.

    April 11, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. sniffy45

    The only thing I like about Obama is that he is ignoring Israel.

    April 11, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. Mav

    Wow – and Mr. Carter was the master foreign neogtiator, he did so well with the hostage situation in Iran. Spare me, his foreign policy was almost as bad as his domestic policy...

    April 11, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. Mav

    Where's spell check LOL

    April 11, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. vajayexpert

    Obama is an Arab. Carter's comments about the redneck from Arkansas's and Obama's positions toward Israel fits. It takes a Georgia redneck to know the stance of a redneck from Arkansas and an Arab's dislikes of Israel...

    April 11, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. JC

    Not one single potential Democratic candidate has any kind of successful foreign policy experience. This in itself doesn't mean that a Democrat candidate would be unfit for office, merely that there has been a huge degree of assumption with regards to foreign affairs, not just regarding the actions of regional players, but also the support for presidential actions and positions at home. Our current administration has been out-thought on every level by Putin, and the next president, no matter who is elected, is going to have to address continued Russian expansionism in a more effective manner.

    It is important to remember that Carter's foreign policy wasn't exactly the most wise or successful of courses. He did have the misfortune to be president during a low point in armed forces quality and preparedness, but I think it would be accurate to say that he has been more effective since leaving office than he ever was while serving as president.

    April 11, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. carlos suazo

    Jimmy Carter should hold Barack Obama in high esteem. He is after all making the former President look good.

    April 11, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. Ron

    President Carter did more to bring peace to the Middle East than any President. With that said it is clear that Israel will not be happy until they dominate all countries in that region. Consider also the fact that the MIC loves the revenue from the chaos Israel creates.

    April 11, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. Brian

    Its going to come down in history that President Carter was one of the best Presidents. The Republicans and even some Democrats will say that's crazy and so be it, that is their opinion and I have mine.

    I made the mistake of voting for President Regan, and I wish I could take my vote back. The candidate Regan standing on the podium complaining about Carter's incurring of huge national debt , but the fact is that Carter inherited his debt from Nixon's big spend to get reelected (check the data). Regan then went on a big spending spree and put the country into significant debt buying weapons and more nukes. Ironic isn't it.

    President Carter had a very dignified approach to Foreign policy, and sensitivity to his fellow Americans. To this day he still does, but also Internationally. As a Christian, I admire his commitment in helping people, all types of people, and working towards peace in the world. Ultimately it will be people like him, those who have power and a conscience who will bring it about. The rest of us should help where and when we can.

    April 11, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. Dom

    The most qualified and best suited people in the US to be president will never run. The job has turned into a joke – just a pinata to be bashed by the left and right. A person whose entire life is published for the world and scrutinized to the extreme. Not to mention it is the most stressful job in the world. The US is on course for banrupcy and then rebellion. the republicans keep tyring to fix the budget issues while the democrates want a rebellion. I guess they think in the long run a rebellion that reduces the population benefits them. The dems are getting more and more people dependenton the goverment. What are all those people going to do when they can't take care of themselves and the goverment can't either anymore? Rebellion.

    April 11, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. The Griot

    Despite all the naysayers and haters, history will show Obama, Clinton, Johnson and Carter to be among the best of US presidents.

    April 11, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. Cj

    In the past 69 years we have only had two presidents with a successful foreign relations. Reagan and FDR. Both of those had their own issues but on balance they had a good record on this issue. The worst was probably Johnson followed by Kennedy, followed by Clinton, followed by Obama followed by W. Bush, followed by Carter, followed by Bush Sr. Followed by Ford, followed by Ike. Trueman and Nixon weren't really bad they just were handed some big messes. Anyone who wants to say either the Dems or the Republicans are worse at this are basically like a drunk looking down at a coke head who looks down on the drunk.

    Johnson flat out lied to us to get us with the Gulf of Tonkin Affair to get us into Vietnam ON THE WRONG SIDE, Kennedy actually got us involved in Viet Nam and couldn't figure out what to do with Castro. On balance he did avoid nuclear war with the Cuban Missile crisis BUT he did get us there. Clinton allowed the extremist to believe they could again attack us with impunity because of our lack of national will and THIS lead to 9-11. Obama has gotten us on the wrong side. In Sryia, has gotten us involved in Lybia, and Egypt. He is getting us involve in the Ukraine. He's bumbling Iran and N. Korea. He didn't immediately declared victory after we as a nation capped OBL. He's screwing up Mexico. The only right things he's done is mostly got us out of Iraq and mostly ignored Isreal. W. Bush? Under reacted to Afghanistan. Over reacted at first to Iraq BUT then after we did go to war in Iraq didnt break enough stuff, failed to declare victory and leave after we got Saddam. Then he stayed and let us get chewed up by our enemies for trying to help them rebuild. Carter? Iran hostage situation. Bush Sr? Got us involved in Iraq I. We had no business being there. Ford wasn't all that bad Ike should have handled Korea better.

    April 11, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. Eleanor Roosevelt

    Only because Carter is so eloquent?? He is a rube with no room to talk!

    April 11, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Robert

    Isn't Jimmy Carter 1000 yrs old, hell he probably doesn't remember what he even said.....lol

    April 11, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. startedyoung

    Honestly feel sorry for our President. (POTUS) America is filled with a bunch of "name callers" and their are quite a few. These people have lost respect for themselves and display true American color by issuing disrespect of our elected chief. If you do not like or respect America then leave. We are determined to be a team and your thought has made us appear uneducated to adult or mature humans. Find a mirror and decide what flag you fly. For years your type with words, actions have not built us "USA" up to be the best but surely done the opposite around the world and at home.

    April 11, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. Dannyman3131

    Again, to Jimmy Carter's point. Obama and Clinton have been failures when it comes to foreign affairs. Without dis barraging Carter and anyone else can one of the lefty supporters of BO/HC make the case that they have not been failures?

    April 11, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Jim37015

    Truly ask yourself if your better today than when Obama took office. Gas has gone up to $3.50+ a gallon along with everything else connected to it or transported by it. Before Obama, you could walk into a Walmart and buy a box of .22 bullets. Now you can't. Obama is slowly and under the table choking the American citizens. Some are just too dumb to realize it. The Dems can't take your guns, they know that. What Obama and his leftist liberal billionaires want, is the ammo and powder. Why would this President find such a need for billions of rounds of ammo when no other president has before???? Because Dems want to take away your right to defend yourself. Plain and simple. Dems want backdoor,under the table "gun control" over the citizens. Want to keep your right? Don't vote Dem in 2016. Hillary is just a continuation of Obamas policies and buddies.

    April 11, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. William

    Any foreign policy that doesn't get American soldiers killed or injured is a success.

    April 11, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. Bob

    You should only be able to comment if you had to live through the Carter years. He is the worst president of my lifetime, and that is really saying something. I have heard Carter speak live twice, once since he left office. Just a layman's view: he's insane. He thinks he was a good president, he thinks he did a good job, he thinks the only way to get through life is a pacifist. He plays really well in socialist parts of Europe, but not so much in the USA.

    April 11, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Dannyman3131


    Tell us how that policy would have worked during WWII?

    April 11, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  23. sly

    I think Jimmy is getting old, and has forgotten that President Obama is the only president in 30 years to NOT start a war or invade a nation.

    President Obama is the best foreign policy US President since Ike.

    April 11, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. Dannyman3131


    Very funny : )

    The world laughs at Obama. Putin has made a clown out of him. North Korea and Iran do as they please. Our relationships with strategic allies have never been worse. Obama is an amateur.........

    April 11, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. Mark L.

    Jimmy Carter was the reason for the demise of the Democratic Party back in the 1980's. Next to Herbert Hoover, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, in my opinion would rank as one of the absolutely WORST Presidents in our nation's history.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton ROCKS !! I ♥ Hillary Clinton and will support her all the way should she decide to pursue her potential candidacy for President of the United States in 2016 !! Hillary Clinton will rank up there with the Golda Meir's, Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi's and Margaret Thatcher's of the world. Hillary will probably be one of the absolute BEST Presidents this nation ever had. (I am certain Hillary also has the potential to do as her husband did: Leave her second term of office with a budget surplus vs. deficit. Hillary is the ONLY person for the job, as far as I am concerned.)

    April 11, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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