“For old men to be taken seriously they must resort to telling the truth.” Bart Sedgebear
Trump’s Phonecall Prompts Jimmy Carter to Reply Candidly
When President Donald Trump phoned Jimmy Carter earlier this month to talk about China he didn’t expect the result to be a damning declaration of American militarism. But that’s what he got, pronounced the following Sunday by the former President during his regular Sunday School lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.
President Carter’s remarks were recorded and transcribed by Emma Hurt, a reporter for National Public Radio affiliate WABE and published on NPR.com. The President said, among other things, that the United States is “the most warlike nation in the history of the world…” This is not a jihadi terrorist speaking, nor a hot-headed young anti-war demonstrator. This is America’s most-respected and best-loved elder statesman, a Nobel Peace Prize laurate and veteran campaigner for free and fair elections and human rights worldwide.
Is it possible that President Carter’s compass is failing him as he reaches 94 years of age?Is he off the mark with this perception of the United States as history’s prime killer? He certainly doesn’t seem addled. Let’s see what he had to say and how he expressed himself in an interview last year when he was 93 years old:
The implications of President Carter’s most-warlike-nation evaluation are massive, perhaps even biblical. It was no coincidence that these thoughts should have been presented in a Sunday school class. “The history of the world…” is a long time, and there have been many warlike nations, extending down to our own lifetimes. It is true, however, that only one of those nations saw fit to drop two atomic bombs on innocent, unsuspecting civilian populations; men, women and children.
Why two bombs? Wouldn’t one have been enough? Yes, probably, but America’s nuclear scientists had two models prepared, Little Boy (Blast yield: 15 kilotons of TNT) and Fat Man (Blast yield: 21 kilotons), and President Truman and his advisors wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to test the destructive results of both. Hence Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked a lugubrious before and after in world history.
President Carter’s remarks extended to the domestic implications of American militarism. Aptly comparing the progress of China and the United States since relations between the two countries were normalized during his administration in 1979, the President Emeritus pointed out, “Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war.” What Carter was too modest to say was that the only five-year period that America was free from war during the 20th century was the last year of the Ford presidency and all four years of his own.
According to President Carter, China has made giant strides forward in every aspect of their society while the United States has stagnated gravely due to its outlandish spending on “national defense.” What possible justification can there be for the US maintaining nearly 1,000 military bases abroad (compared to Russia’s 21 which include mainly former Soviet republics), or military spending that is the equivalent of the sum of the next seven countries combined? Economic experts predict that China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s strongest economy by 2030.
“How many miles of high-speed railway do we have in this country?” Carter asked the congregation.
“Zero,” they answered unanimously. According to Wikipedia China has the largest network of high-speed passenger trains in the world extending over 18,000 miles.
“We have wasted, I think, $3 trillion,” Carter said, referring to American military spending. “China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.”
President Carter’s summary was devastating:
And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure, you’d probably have $2 trillion left over. We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing. We’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong.
Many Americans might be shocked to read that the United States can only aspire to education standards as high as those of South Korea. They might also be envious of South Korea’s automobile production of 4 million vehicles, compared to US’s 2.8 million–not to mention China’s 23.5 million. If these figures shock you it’s because you’re still living in the glossy past of the United States. In more recent times America has made mainly war while the rest of the world has made progress.
It’s an apt time to thank President Carter for this frank and valiant reminder and for his years of service, both during and after his time in office. If the American people had enjoyed half a dozen presidents of Carter’s stature at critical junctures in the history of their country today’s United States would be a far, far better place.