Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Old Failings Have Become Carter's Virtues Former President Has Approval Rating Clinton Would Love

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Old Failings Have Become Carter's Virtues Former President Has Approval Rating Clinton Would Love

Article excerpt

IT MAY BE too late for former President Jimmy Carter to be nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. But if he keeps up the pace, he could be penciling in a trip to Oslo, Norway, next year.

For the second time in three months, he has used his extraordinary diplomatic skills to help the United States avoid a perilous military showdown - first in Korea, and now in Haiti.

Historians will argue over Carter's contribution to resolving the weekend cliffhanger in Port-au-Prince. The military prestige of his fellow emissary, retired Gen. Colin Powell, must have counted among the soldiers across the bargaining table.

The information that C-141s bearing U.S. paratroopers were about one hour out of Haitian airspace when the deal was finally struck also must have had its impact.

But only the churlish would deny the former president, 69, most of the credit.

As a fellow Georgian, Sen. Sam Nunn, the third member of the negotiating team, observed Monday at a White House press conference alongside President Bill Clinton: "without (Carter's) determination to bring about peace, this could not have happened."

The gracious words do not apply only to Haiti. The avoidance of bloodshed and the promotion of peace, reconciliation and human rights have been the hallmarks of Carter's free-lance diplomacy.

In the process, the man who was swept from office by Ronald Reagan in 1980 to a sigh of national relief has become the most esteemed former president of recent times, with an approval rating that Clinton would love.

The Carter touch has been apparent in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. His good offices helped engineer the surrender of power in Nicaragua by the Sandinistas.

He monitored Haiti's 1990 election, which brought Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. Carter became one of the few people trusted by both Aristide and Gen. Raoul Cedras, who ousted Aristide in September 1991.

Carter's efforts do not always succeed. There is disorder in Liberia and Sudan, where Carter tried to bring about settlements. He is still charged with naivete, and is accused of relying on appeasement.

His extraction this summer of a promise from North Korea to "freeze" a nuclear capacity that Clinton had publicly vowed to destroy annoyed many of Clinton's aides. …

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