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Presidency: Brent Scowcroft on Jimmy Carter

This past week Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize. Last May HNN published an excerpt about President Carter from A World Transformed (1998), the memoir written jointly by President George Herbert Walker Bush and General Brent Scowcroft, his national security advisor. General Scowcroft is credited in the book as the author of the excerpt, which concerns events leading up to the passage of UN resolution 678 on November 29, 1990. The resolution gave Iraq an ultimatum: get out of Kuwait by January 15 or face military action.

In the midst of this careful diplomacy, former President Jimmy Carter wrote the members of the [UN] Security Council asking them not to support the resolution. He argued that the costs in huiman life and the economic consequences, not to mention the permanent destabilization oif the Middle East, were too high and unnecessary,"unless all peaceful resolution efforts are first exhausted." He called for the UN to mandate a"good faith" negotiation with the Iraqi leaders to consider their concerns, and to ask the Arabs to try to work out a peaceful solution,"without any restraint on their agenda." It was an unbelieveable letter, asking the other members of the council to vote against his own country. We found out about it only when one of the recipients sent us a copy. Carter later acknowl;edged he had sent the letter, but claimed he had told President Bush what he was doing. He did send the President a similar one, but without mentioning he had also lobbied the President's foreign colleagues. It seemed to me that if there was ever a violation of the Logan Act prohibiting diplomacy by private citizens, this was it. President Bush was furious at this interference in the conduct of his foreign policy and the deliberate attempt to undermine it, but told me just to let it drop.