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Nobel Prize to Jimmy Carter - BUSH STANCE ON IRAQ

  1. zwu

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    Nobel Peace Prize goes to Jimmy Carter
    By Jeffrey Gettleman
    New York Times, Sat, Oct. 12, 2002

    PLAINS, Ga. - For his peacemaking and humanitarian work over the past 25 years, former President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, and the Nobel committee used the occasion to send a sharp rebuke to the Bush administration for its aggressive policy toward Iraq.

    ``In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power,'' the Nobel citation read, ``Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international cooperation based on international law, respect for human rights and economic development.''

    Gunnar Berge, the Nobel committee chairman, was even more direct.

    The award ``should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken,'' Berge said shortly after the award was announced in Oslo, Norway.

    More than any other ex-president, Carter, a Democrat and former Georgia peanut farmer and governor, has stretched the gravitas and star power of the Oval Office to promote democratic values across the world. Unlike his fellow ex-presidents, he never joined corporate boards or went on the lecture circuit.

    Instead, with seemingly endless energy and his signature toothy grin, he trudged up mountains to meet with warlords, cajoled dictators into granting more freedoms and found a second career of ``waging peace,'' as he calls it. Everywhere he goes, so does his wife, Rosalynn, his most trusted confidant.

    Carter, beaming in the affection of his hometown of Plains, Ga., on Friday, said he did not bring up the subject of Iraq when President Bush called to congratulate him Friday morning.

    ``I feel very strongly about it, yes,'' said Carter, 78, who has said the administration should not act unilaterally against Iraq. ``But I didn't think it was appropriate to mention it. I haven't spent the last 22 years walking around saying what I would or wouldn't do if I were still president. Just because I won this award, doesn't mean I'm going to do that.''

    Administration officials sought to sidestep any controversy over the Nobel committee chairman's remarks, saying they were proud Carter had won the award.

    The Nobel Peace Prize, which carries a stipend of $1 million, recognizes the 39th president for his ``vital contribution'' to the Camp David accords in 1978, his ``outstanding commitment to human rights,'' his work fighting tropical diseases like Guinea worm and river blindness and his continuing interest in furthering democracy. Monday, Carter will go to Jamaica to monitor elections.

    Accolades from Clinton

    Former President Clinton on Friday added his voice to a global chorus of congratulatory good will for Carter. ``I cannot think of anyone more qualified to receive this year's Nobel Peace Prize than President Jimmy Carter,'' Clinton said in a statement. ``He continues to inspire people everywhere, young and old alike, through his vigorous quest for peace, justice and a better quality of life for all citizens of the world.''

    As president from 1977 to 1981, Carter may have left his deepest mark by emphasizing the notion of human rights as a central element of U.S. foreign policy. He raised the profile of human rights work during a time when such advocacy groups were springing up around the country.

    ``Jimmy Carter has done more to integrate human rights into U.S. foreign policy than anybody else. Before Jimmy Carter, human rights and U.S. foreign policy were like oil and water,'' said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. Now, Roth said, ``no one dares say human rights are unimportant to U.S. foreign policy.''

    Carter does not disagree that he has been a better ex-president than president, having lost a landslide election to Ronald Reagan in 1980. He is an icon in many Third World countries, especially in Latin America. And he has been nominated more than 10 times for the peace prize. So many years came and went, Carter said, he resigned himself to never winning.

    ``When I got the call this morning at 4 a.m., I thought it was a joke,'' Carter said. ``I didn't even know this was the day the prize was announced. I usually follow these things, but this year I wasn't paying attention. And then when I talked to the committee, and realized I really won, I was thrilled.''

    He said he was accepting the prize on behalf of ``suffering people around the world.'' He plans to give all the money to the Carter Center, for an emergency fund.

    ``I can't tell you how many times I get a call in the middle of the night and some crisis is about to break out,'' he said. ``Now we'll have the funds to get there.''

    Domestic pursuit

    In the United States, Carter frequently has been seen helping to build housing for low-income families under the auspices of the organization Habitat for Humanity.

    Douglas Brinkley, a historian who wrote ``The Unfinished Presidency'' about Carter, said this prize will transform the ex-president's legacy, especially his defeat by Reagan.

    ``It's the most important moment for him because in one afternoon by being awarded the Nobel he has wiped the word `loser' off of his chest,'' Brinkley said.

    Carter is the third U.S. president to win the award, after Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Also, he is the second Georgian to win. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. won it in 1964.

    Friday, when asked his position on Iraq, Carter said he would not have voted for the resolution passed in the Senate, authorizing the president to use force.

    ``I believe we have to go through the United Nations on this,'' Carter said. ``We shouldn't act unilaterally.''

    At a media briefing later, White House officials tried to downplay the criticism from Carter and the Nobel chairman. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Bush began his day with a 7 a.m. phone call congratulating Carter, and added: ``The president thinks this is a great day for Jimmy Carter; that's what he's going to focus on.''

    Carter was a successful peanut farmer and obscure one-term governor of Georgia when he began what appeared to be a quixotic campaign for the presidency in 1974, the year President Richard Nixon left the White House in disgrace after the Watergate scandal. But Carter, a tireless campaigner, finished ahead of his Democratic rivals in the 1976 Iowa caucuses, a crucial first step that helped to propel him to the Democratic presidential nomination and a narrow victory in the fall over Nixon's successor, President Gerald Ford.

    Carter's presidency had its share of successes, but it was also plagued by raging inflation, an energy shortage that produced long lines at gas stations, the 444-day hostage crisis in Iran, and the failed and fatal attempt to rescue the hostages.

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