"Your strength can compensate for my weakness, and your wisdom can help to minimize my mistakes."
-- Jimmy Carter, inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1977
WASHINGTON -- More than 31 years after he uttered those words, America still is trying to compensate for and minimize Jimmy Carter's mistakes and weaknesses, the greatest of which appears to be hubris. This week, our much-traveled 39th president ventured as a "private citizen" to the Middle East on a self-described mission "exploring possibilities for peace." Regrettably, what citizen Carter has succeeded in doing is encouraging our nation's adversaries, lending credibility to terrorists who have killed our countrymen, and disparaging a beleaguered ally.
Carter's current sojourn in personal diplomacy is just his most recent foreign foray in post-presidential folly since being voted out of office in Ronald Reagan's 1980 landslide. During his global quest for relevance, he rarely missed an opportunity to denigrate our country's interests, helping him to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. But this week's expedition to Jerusalem, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia may prove to be the most damaging excursion yet.
Despite his claims, Carter is no "neutral observer." In June 1994, the former president went to Pyongyang to broker a failed nuclear disarmament deal with North Korean despot Kim Il Sung. In 2002, he deigned to dignify the brutal, bearded butcher of Havana, Fidel Castro. While in the "island paradise," he disparaged America's commitment to human rights and praised Cuba's education and health care systems. In 2006, he and his self-appointed "impartial arbiters" declared that the Palestinian elections that brought Hamas to power in Gaza were "legitimate." Later that same year, in his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," he declared, "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land."
Though Carter's present 10-day Mideast trip has been overshadowed in the U.S. media by the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, the former president's travel and talks have been widely celebrated in the Arab press, particularly on radical Islamic Web sites. All have observed that the former chief executive's decisions to lay a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat and his meetings with senior Hamas officials are "unprecedented."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.