Two stories in today’s NY Times:
1) Jimmy Carter: A Five-Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis; and 2) F.B.I. Chief Links Police Scrutiny to Rise in Crime
An Ex-President Points the Way to Peace
Jimmy Carter’s presidency was short and flawed. But his ex-presidency is long and remarkable. No ex-president can match him in integrity, courage and commitment to peace and humanity. He goes anywhere, talks with anyone, brings antagonists together to seek paths to peace. Also, much to his credit, he was the first US leader to dare to give Israel’s occupation the name it deserves: apartheid.
His proposal to end the Syrian crisis is not based on military strikes from any side in the conflict, nor on the US ultimatum that Assad’s ouster is a pre-condition for any cooperation among interested parties. It is to bring together representatives of rival nations who have a common interest in ending the catastrophic civil war and defeating ISIS. Transition to a reformed and more stable Syria could emerge from negotiations arranged by the United Nations and inclusive of the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. That’s the formula that worked in the P+1 Iran agreement. That, not bombs and “no fly zones”, is the way forward.
It’s crucial to require presidential candidates Sanders and Clinton to endorse the Carter plan. That, along with opposition to the Trans Pacific Trade Pact, might make Hillary’s relationship with the neocons considerably less cozy.
An FBI Chief and Shades of J. Edgar Hoover
"With his remarks, Mr. Comey lent the prestige of the F.B.I., the nation’s most prominent law enforcement agency, to a theory that is far from settled: that the increased attention on the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals." (NY Times)
Much of the nation is opening its eyes to racist patterns of lethal violence and brutality in police conduct, as well as in the justice and prison systems. Now, the voice of J. Edgar Hover rises from the grave through the medium of current FBI Director, James B. Comey. Let’s remember. Liberals and progressives who got their FBI files could not fail to note a pervasive preoccupation with race. If you are white and associate with blacks or are active in civil rights causes, that’s reason for suspicion and surveillance. (For me, the first item in my file was a censored letter sent to me while I was in the army: the correspondent noted that visiting French troops were integrated and complained that ours were segregated.) If you demonstrated to protest the lynching of Willie McGee, you’re considered a subversive. Of course, if you’re Martin Luther King, or any black activist, you are targeted for slander and counter-intelligence schemes, and if you’re a Black Panther you can be shot dead.
Don’t let that legacy go on. The biggest problem of our surveillance and “security” state is that the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI are hidden from public scrutiny and are not accountable when they violate laws, abuse civil rights, or even when they have engaged in torture. The FBI Chief should not be inciting more police aggression at this critical and volatile time. Comey should go.
Linda Asher: Yes, Carter has been invaluable, and on top of that not self-vaunting, self-glorifying. He keeps his eye and hand on reason, compassion, and effective possibilities. There are still jerks out there who take the time to vilify him. And Comey: He behaved well in that one refusal to do Cheney's will (in the hospital room) so one thought he might have a mind of his own, or at least a determination to do no wrong by falling into the judgments of others. In the black panthers film, a great (and to me unfamiliar) line from Hoover was (quote imprecise--you can straighten me out ) in response to query about surveillance and Justice : " Justice takes a back seat to public safety concerns. " His monstrosity (and freakiness!) remains unacknowledged by most public figures.
Paul Taub: Very interesting ideas from President Carter, I totally agree with you about how important his post-Presidency work has been. I bet we’ll look at Obama in the same way in another 25 years, it’ll be interesting to see where he focuses his attention after 2016!
Sally H: Since you don't have an icon on your blog to post to FaceBook, I have to ask: may I put a link to the current Carter/F.B.I. blog on my FB page? Both subjects are covered in ways I'd like to put my name behind.