An Outsider in the White House
Jimmy Carter, His Advisors, and the Making of American Foreign Policy
Publication Year: 2009
Jimmy Carter entered the White House with a desire for a collegial staff that would aid his foreign-policy decision making. He wound up with a "team of rivals" who contended for influence and who fought over his every move regarding relations with the USSR, the Peoples' Republic of China, arms control, and other crucial foreign-policy issues.
In two areas-the Camp David Accords and the return of the Canal to Panama-Carter's successes were attributable to his particular political skills and the assistance of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and other professional diplomats. The ultimate victor in the other battles was Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a motivated tactician. Carter, the outsider who had sought to change the political culture of the executive office, found himself dependent on the very insiders of the political and diplomatic establishment against whom he had campaigned.
Based on recently declassified documents in the Carter Library, materials not previously noted in the Vance papers, and a wide variety of interviews, Betty Glad's An Outsider in the White House is a rich and nuanced depiction of the relationship between policy and character. It is also a poignant history of damaged ideals. Carter's absolute commitment to human rights foundered on what were seen as national security interests.
New data from the archives reveal how Carter's government sought the aid of Pope John Paul II to undercut the human-rights efforts of the El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. A moralistic approach toward the Soviet Union undermined Carter's early desire to reduce East-West conflicts and cut nuclear arms. As a result, by 1980 the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) was in limbo, and a nuclear counterforce doctrine had been adopted.
Near the end of Carter's single term in office Vance stepped down as secretary of state, in part because Brzezinski's "muscular diplomacy" had come to dominate Carter's foreign policy. When Vance's successor, Edmund Muskie, took over, the State Department was reduced to implementing policies made by Brzezinski and his allies. For Carter, the rivalry for influence in the White House was concluded and the results, as Glad shows, were a mixed record and an uncertain presidential legacy.
Published by: Cornell University Press
Title Page, Copyright
...This book is the result of ten years, off and on, of research, writing, and Carter watching. Along the way the University of South Carolina provided me with several research assistants. One of the first of these individuals, Daniel Crabtree, accompanied me to the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum and prepared detailed summaries of the materials...
A Note on Sources
...Most of the material in this work is from the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta, Georgia. Particularly useful was the library’s Plains File, which contains material Carter had taken home to Plains, Georgia, from the White House as background for his own memoir; he transferred these papers to the library in December 1982. Carter’s...
...What happens when an outsider with lofty moral and political goals and little experience or education in foreign policy takes over the U.S. presidency? Clearly, he is going to be very dependent on his staff. But how does he use them? Jimmy Carter made some choices along these lines that put him in a place where he did not want to be. As president he started out with the view that East–West conflicts...
I. THE PLAYERS
1. HIGH EXPECTATIONS
...Jimmy Carter was going to be different as president. Running against what he sometimes called the “big shots,” he publicly cast himself as an outsider. As Carter said in a commercial, “There is one major and fundamental issue. And that is the issue between the insiders and the outsiders. I have been accused of being an outsider and...
2. THE FOREIGN POLICY TEAM
...In time he also won a reputation for being detail-oriented. He corrected the grammar— usually for the better—of some of the memos that crossed his desk. He asked for reports on the academic curricula at service academies. He decided who would have access to the White House tennis courts; and when he invited someone...
3. THE BRZEZINSKI ADVANTAGE
...Unlike earlier national security advisors, Zbigniew Brzezinski was a member of the president’s cabinet. He also had a large office assigned to him in the West Wing of the White House and a limousine for his ride to work each morning. With these assets Brzezinski could travel with ease around official Washington, D.C., sit in on major...
II. EARLY COMMITMENTS
4. EARLY FUMBLES
...Two months after Jimmy Carter took office as president, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) head Paul Warnke, accompanied by an entourage of advisors and media people, arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport with arms limitation proposals in hand. On Sunday, March 27, the...
...The sincerity and honor of the president, however, was not the issue. A real clash of interests revolved around the new role of the USSR in the world and the U.S. response to it. The Soviet goal at the time was to secure recognition of its equality with the United States and a mutual understanding “that each superpower not only controlled its own...
6. HUMAN RIGHTS ANDTHE SOVIET TARGET
...The negotiations with the USSR were complicated by Jimmy Carter’s insistence on confrontations over the Soviet human rights record. The president, in his first meeting with Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, stated that he would have a new policy regarding Soviet dissidents. Unlike previous presidents, he might receive Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the White House or issue a statement of support for...
7. COMPETITION IN THE HORNOF AFRICA
...Three days later Carter underscored this message in a meeting at the National Press Club: “I think it’s easy for someone who disagrees with a decision that I make to single out Dr. Brzezinski as a target, insinuating that I’m either ineffective or incompetent or ignorant, that I don’t actually make the decision. . . . And it gives an easy target for them...
8. NEGOTIATIONS WITH PANAMA
...In a second set of negotiations begun at the beginning of his term in office, Jimmy Carter expeditiously came to terms with a foreign adversary. In early September 1977, Jimmy Carter and Panama’s General Omar Torrijos Herrera put their signatures to treaties that would transfer control of the Panama Canal to Panama by 2000...
9. DEALING WITH CONGRESS
...There were harbingers of difficulties ahead as early as the summer of 1977. Driving up to the Pan-American Union building in Washington, D.C., for the original signing ceremony, Special Negotiator Sol Linowitz and his wife, Toni, saw a crowd of people gathered at a corner on Constitution Avenue. Under a huge banner, an effigy of Linowitz...
10. SALT AND THE SENATE
...Jimmy Carter’s plane from the Geneva Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) talks landed on June 18, 1979, at Andrews Air Base. Two hours later the president was addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, urging support of the treaty he had just brought back with him from Vienna. The SALT II Treaty, he explained, was not a favor...
III. MIDTERM ACHIEVEMENTS
11. THE TILT TOWARD CHINA
...On Friday, December 15, 1978, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski invited Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the United States, to the White House for a visit. He had Press Secretary Jody Powell alert the media so they would be outside photographing him. Brzezinski chatted amiably with a cheery...
12. BUILDING THE SECURITY RELATIONSHIP
...premier. But the first dinner, at Zbigniew Brzezinski’s home on Sunday, January 28, 1979, was a private affair. Using good Soviet vodka (a gift from Anatoly Dobrynin), Brzezinski toasted Deng Xiaoping with Leonid Brezhnev’s favorite drink. Cyrus Vance—along with Richard Holbrooke, Leonard Woodcock, and Mike Oksenberg—was merely an invited guest. Washingtonians with sensitive...
13. THE IMPACT OF A MOTIVATED TACTICIAN
...We have seen how he employed salami tactics to get to Beijing. Then he set the agenda, introduced decision rules, and controlled access to the decision making process in ways that furthered his objectives. To bolster the desired option, he sought allies on the presidential staff and elsewhere, and in all probability he permitted NSC leaks in an effort to influence public...
14. MAESTRO OF THE CAMP DAVID TALKS
...On Monday, September 18, 1978, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, and First Lady Rosalynn Carter arrived at the U.S. House of Representatives, taking their seats in the front row balcony. When President Jimmy Carter entered the crowded chamber, he was greeted by wild applause. During his...
15. SUPPORT TEAMS AND THE ROAD AHEAD
...The “predispositions” of the three major players at Camp David, suggests Harold Saunders, then the assistant secretary of state for Near East and South Asia Affairs, were crucial to the success of the Camp David meetings: “Sadat was a visionary; Carter, the engineer; and Begin, the lawyer...
IV. CRISES AND CONFRONTATIONS
pp. 165 -166
16. CONFRONTING A REGIME CHANGE
...The next day, Tehran oil refinery workers issued a call to strike to express solidarity with those massacred on the previous day and protest against the shah’s imposing of martial law. The unrest spread like wildfire to Shiraz, Tabriz, Abdan, and Isfahan. In Teheran, the oil...
17. SCRAMBLING FOR OPTIONS
...On October 20, 1979, President Jimmy Carter agreed to admit Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the United States for medical treatment in New York City. Two weeks later, on a rainy morning, several hundred militant Iranian students stormed the American embassy in Tehran. The women among them cut through the gates in front...
18. THE SOVIET BRIGADE “CRISIS”
...At a press conference in Boise, Idaho, on August 30, 1979, Frank Church, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, put the issue of a Soviet brigade in Cuba into the political arena. “The United States cannot permit the island to become a Russian military base, 90 miles from our shores,” he declared. Allowing this...
19. AFGHANISTAN: FORMULATING A RESPONSE
...On Christmas morning in 1979, Moscow began to airlift soldiers to Kabul, Afghanistan claiming to “put down the rebellion of conservative Muslim tribesmen.” In the early evening, Soviet troops seized key locations in Kabul, including the radio station. By the next day, Radio Kabul announced that the “repressive” Communist President...
20. EXACTING A PRICE
...Jimmy Carter noted with pride that he sometimes excelled where others did not. At one of his foreign policy breakfast meetings with advisors, he said, “There is a tendency on the frazzled edges of government to drift away from the tough decisions we made. I am not going to abide that. We cannot wince now or seem unsure of ourselves...
V. RENEWAL OFTHE COLD WAR
21. MAD AND THE PURSUIT OF PD-59
...The administration of President Jimmy Carter embraced, as CIA director Stansfield Turner has noted, “a series of policies on nuclear weapons that laid the whole foundation for Reagan’s expansion of nuclear weapons, and war-fighting, and war-winning capabilities.” Foremost among these was Presidential Directive 59, issued on July 25...
22. SHADOWING THE SOVIETS
...Looking backward, one Russian observer at a conference of former U.S.-Soviet decision makers in 1995, noted that this renewal of the Cold War might be understood via the Russian concept of shadowing. Players in the game of soccer may get so fixed on following in the footsteps of a particular player that they lose sight of the larger, overall...
23. THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND
...Jimmy Carter’s human rights policies, too, would be sidelined by the very anticommunism that he had warned against in his Notre Dame speech in May 1977. One of the most jarring manifestations of this shift was his praise for one of the worst despots in Eastern Europe, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu. Receiving...
24. THE DEATH OF THE ARCHBISHOP
...If human rights are the soul of U.S. foreign policy, then the Carter administration sinned in dealing with El Salvador. Jimmy Carter began his presidency by coming to the support of Andrei Sakahrov, the great Soviet human rights activist. He ended up with policies that isolated Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez of El Salvador...
25. OPERATION EAGLE CLAW
...On April 11, 1980, Jimmy Carter opened a foreign policy breakfast meeting in the Cabinet Room: “Gentlemen, I want you to know that I am seriously considering an attempt to rescue the hostages.” The president continued, “A team of expert paramilitary people now report that they have confidence on their ability to rescue our people...
26. THE FINAL MONTHS
...The Democratic Party Conventions opened at Madison Square Garden in New York City on August 11, 1980. At this point Jimmy Carter’s renomination as the Democratic nominee for president was secure. By the time of the Pennsylvania primary in late April of that year, he had garnered 1,137 delegates of the 1,666 needed to win the nomination...
27. JIMMY CARTER AND THE AMERICAN MISSION
...In the American mythos, an outsider goes to Washington, D.C., counters a corrupt establishment, and brings America around to its true and common interest. This story has inspired many politicians and countless citizens to believe in their own abilities to change the country for the better. But as Jimmy Carter found out, the most idealistic...
Page Count: 414
Publication Year: 2009
MUSE Marc Record: Download for An Outsider in the White House