The former president has been gulled once again, this time by the Communist regime in North Korea, a very brutal system of control, indeed. It's not the first time that the Kim dynasty has taken him in. But it is the ex-president at his most outlandishly doltish.
Take the column Carter published this week in the Washington Post. It argues the good intentions of the dictatorship with regard to nuclear weapons. But it does so only by assertion and reassertion.
This past July I was invited to return to Pyongyang to secure the release of an American, Aijalon Gomes, with the proviso that my visit would last long enough for substantive talks with top North Korean officials. They spelled out in detail their desire to develop a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a permanent cease-fire, based on the 1994 agreements and the terms adopted by the six powers in September 2005. With no authority to mediate any disputes, I relayed this message to the State Department and White House. Chinese leaders indicated support of this bilateral discussion.
North Korean officials have given the same message to other recent American visitors and have permitted access by nuclear experts to an advanced facility for purifying uranium. The same officials had made it clear to me that this array of centrifuges would be "on the table" for discussions with the United States, although uranium purification - a very slow process - was not covered in the 1994 agreements.
Pyongyang has sent a consistent message that during direct talks with the United States, it is ready to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the "temporary" cease-fire of 1953. We should consider responding to this offer. The unfortunate alternative is for North Koreans to take whatever actions they consider necessary to defend themselves from what they claim to fear most: a military attack supported by the United States, along with efforts to change the political regime.
This is not the first time that someone so significant has argued the good intentions of a Marxist tyranny. More than six decades ago, Henry Wallace, who was dumped from the vice presidency by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, went on a rampage of support for the Soviet Union. After all, Wallace argued, the Red Kremlin had been pushed by the aggressive policies of the United States and its allies.
By the way, Wallace was editor of The New Republic (which published this drivel) for a year before the Communist Party ran him for president as its candidate on the Progressive Party line.
Which is why it is creepy to me that many liberals have dropped the historically resonant "liberal" hallmark in favor of the "progressive" label which, going back to the agrarian populists, reeks of racial bigotry and sloganeering politics.