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. kego

    Actually President Obama has weathered the storm extremely well and I would argue that his foreign policies are largely successful. Much more successful than any president in the last 50 years.
    You can claim Reagan, but the soviet collapse had nothing to do with Reagan and everything to do with the plunge of oil prices which caused the Soviet Union to collapse. We have been paying for his policies towards the middle east for the last 30 years.
    George Bush Jr. easily had the worst foreign policies of any president in the history of the United States.

    Oh, and Jim37015, gas prices hit their highest levels under Bush....and only declined temporarily because of the Financial Crisis. ..and yes, I am much better off than I was 6 years ago...that has nothing to do with either Bush or Obama.
    Instead of buying bullets, maybe you would be better off now if you walked into Walmart and bought a book.

    April 11, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Dannyman3131


    And this I based on what?? Her huge amount of success as a Senator or Sec. of State? Oh wait, No, she has no accomplishments of note. To put her in the class of women you did is beyond ridiculous.

    April 11, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Ratt Mann

    "when Secretary Clinton was Secretary of State, she took very little action to bring about peace..."

    Perhaps Hillary knew those camel jockeys in the Middle East don't want peace and that getting involved with them was a complete waste of time and so she focused her efforts elsewhere. She's no fool.

    April 11, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Steve

    Compared to obama and clinton, Carter looks like Reagan!

    April 11, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. jack2

    Jimmy carter was weak in some areas and strong in others. He was an honest man with good intentions. He did a good job on the middle East dealing with Menachem Begin and the greatest middle east leader from Egypt, Anwar Sadat. he's pretty6 much right on this but I'm not so confident on Kerry as he is.

    April 11, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Buckn

    @ Josh. no, if you really want the worst presidents in history, it'd be Obama, followed by Grant. U.S. Grant; murderer of tens of thousands of Native Americans.

    April 11, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. k

    they have no foreign policy!

    April 11, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Hung Trinh

    The bottom line is after 5 years, President Obama manages to destroy the US position as a world leader. He is going to destroy our health care and our economy if we are not wake up and remove his Democratic party from power. Please vote not for your party but for our country USA.

    April 11, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Cyrus86

    I don't agree with Carter often, but I do on this issue. Jetting around the globe drinking tea and shaking hands is not what makes a great Secretary of State. Plus she got 4 people killed, then she fired senior people as scape goats. Pathenic.

    April 11, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Cyrus refugee

    Jimmy Carter, was the most ignorant about Islamic and middleeastern mentality .Arabs and Moslem clergies they have ,one thing in mind, that is to conquer the west ,even by force. Ev en impose their culture and religion on other nations (look at France) Mr carter's token to middle east was Ayet-allah Khomeini .Thank you .Now Carter defends Iran Nuclear dispute to creat another Mess.Mr Carter you are a Gullible farmer .Please do not add to misery of Middle
    east .Follow your church activity ,politics is not for you .

    April 11, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  11. Charles

    Successful foreign policy depends on who you ask. I find Obama's approach vastly more successful than the previous president. Osama – dead. Gadafi – Dead. Wars started – zero. Wars ended – 1. I am sick of Israel picking fights and asking us to foot the bill. What do they do for us other than antagonize and stick their hand out. Too many people bought into the hype that because they are not Arab they are our friends. To the Israelis – we are just their big, stupid "buddy" who they somehow have convinced to fund and defend them no matter what.

    April 11, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. voice of reason

    This coming from a President who is ridiculed for his foreign policy? No big fan of either Clinton or Obama but please.. isn't this a pot calling a kettle black?

    April 11, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. Mark Baker

    Carter is looking at things one dimensionally. He may be a little too old to dig deep into the real plusses and minuses of our current secretary's of state. Carter also gets partial credit for Iran being what it is today despite his good intentions. So he should understand how difficult these problems are.

    April 11, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Dannyman3131

    Not one fact that proves that Carter is not correct in his opinion just attacks on Carter's record. Obama is a failure in foreign affairs and domestic for that matter. His supporters can't deny this so they just attack anyone that points out his inadequacies or blame Bush.

    April 11, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. tommeister

    can someone name one country we have a better relationship with since Hilarity, Obysmal and long Jawwwwwwwwwn took over?

    Just one.

    April 11, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Kathy

    Seriously, Jimmy Carter???? He was a terrible president. Why are we even listening to what he has to say. I don't think Hillary Clinton is worth a red cent, Obama is ruining this country and Jimmy Carter was no better. He has no credibility at all.

    April 11, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. northerstar

    Carter should remain retired. Had Carter continued in office it is very likely that the Soviet Union would still be with us. Whether Reagan was responsible or it was falling oil prices (or a combination of many factors) that did the Soviets in, it is more likely that had Carter been in office another term, he would have provided financial AID to maintain the Soviet Union during the falling oil prices rather than help force the collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachov has been clear in his memories that Gorby knew when he first met Reagan that the Soviet Union was lost !

    April 11, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. ColoNurse

    Carter, like Obama are as relavent as a hockey puck in asand dune.

    April 11, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. sly

    President Obama: Best US President since Ike.

    Only one since then to not start a war, or invade a nation.
    Record Stock Market. Record 401K. Record housing prices.

    Thank you President Obama and future President Hillary Clinton for safeguarding America from any foreign terrorist attack on our soil! You two are American hero's.

    April 11, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Gary L. Wimmer, Master of Lithomancy

    "The bottom line is after 5 years, President Obama manages to destroy the US position as a world leader. He is going to destroy our health care and our economy if we are not wake up and remove his Democratic party from power. Please vote not for your party but for our country USA."

    Just more idiocy from another GOP nitwit. They are a dying breed in a new world.

    April 11, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. Carter hated by Jews

    Jimmy Carter is the most shunned president we have due to his truthfulness about the middle east. Telling the story as it is, rather than sugar coating it for Israel's benefit, has made him an outcast as far as the media is concerned. Ask the average person today and they will give you the mainstreams version of "anti-semetic peanut farmer that couldn't even free our hostages..."

    April 11, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. MB

    Obama's first term was to keep the US from sliding off a financial cliff so he had his hands full-majjor companies on brink of bankruptcy, losing 800,000 jobs a month, a tanking stock market and 2 wars were handed to him-getting involved in the ME peace process after 1000 years of ME confilct-he had to take care of the US first and what was Carterls big foreign policy effort-failure to get US hostages out of Iran

    April 11, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Roland

    If you knock the Clintons do it for their support of the Iraq invasion the Israel bias of the USA is a shared hobby of democrats and republicans.It doesnt really matter who is in office if you want to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict get a third neutral arbitrar,with the US-Israel on one side the world and the Palestinians on the other.

    April 11, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. lividemerald2013

    “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” It makes a big difference.

    April 11, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Lemar Jones

    Wow the second worse president in recent history slamming the worst President in history and one of the worst Secretaries of State. They all belong in the same boat if you ask me. Sad that when the US is going through some of her hardest times, we have inept leaders and a complete leadership vacuum.

    April 11, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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